Thursday, November 18, 2021

A new philosophy

Thirty-five years ago my wife bought a 1920s edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In that edition, many articles were written by people who had participated in the events listed. J.F.C. Fuller and B.H. Liddell Hart wrote of military history; Lon Chaney wrote of motion pictures; and Leon Trotsky wrote the main article on Vladimir Lenin.

Impressive to me were changes in the English language between the 1920s and the middle-1980s, when my wife gave the books to me. Articles on nations, languages and cultures spoke of those in terms of “race.” I was surprised to learn every country was considered to consist of a “race.” There was the “French race,” the “German race,” the “British race.” One article considered “The future of English-speaking peoples.” That would be labeled “racist talk” these days, promulgating English-speaking people as different from the rest of the world. Another article titled “The American Negro” certainly would be labeled “racist," no matter its statements of fact.

Coupled with today’s news and screechings, that almost 100-year-old collection of the world’s wisdom and history led me to this:

I am tired of race. I am tired of everything having to do with race. I do not want to hear “He/She is the first African-American” to do whatever. I do not care that someone is “the first Hispanic-American” to do something.

Apparently, everything that can be done has been done by a white person, and every person not white who also does the thing must be lauded and his/her accomplishment pointed out solely because the person is brown, black or tan, and somewhere in his/her background was a Chinese or Mexican or African.

I have reached 75 years, battled bigotry, what passes for racism, the ugly term genderism, a whole bale of isms. And now, I can have another philosophy:

I don’t care.

On a 60 Minutes interview several years ago, Mike Wallace asked actor Morgan Freeman how the US could stop racism. Freeman’s response was immediate and accurate:

“Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, ‘I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.’ Hear what I’m saying?”

Thank you, Mr. Freeman.

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