Wednesday, December 14, 2005

All of Me

I often struggle with the idea that one can accept or tolerate or, to some degree, embrace someone or something WITHOUT the implication that one accepts or condones everything about that someone or something.

For example, when Thanksgiving came around, there were people who mentioned how the holiday is a sham and that its present and future are forever tainted by its past. As far as they're concerned, celebrating Thanksgiving is like disrespecting those that suffered through the real events of that bygone era.

I tend to think that Thanksgiving and Christmas have evolved beyond what they were and even what some people, today, consider them to be. I think Christmas, for example, isn't just a religious holiday. I'm not religious, but Christmas means a helluva lot to me. What it doesn't represent to others or even what it does pales in comparison to my very positive, long-standing associations with this time of year.

So, if I'm so "enlightened" and able to look past the origins of the thing so that I may appreciate its current state, why is it so hard to do the same thing with people (or, sometimes, businesses)? I've known people who have done some very bad things, in some cases, they did these things to people they claimed to love.

I believe that there are zero to very few actual MONSTERS in this world. There are just a bunch of human beings who do terrible things to themselves and to each other. They don't forfeit their humanity when they do these things any more than a deadbeat dad forfeits his manhood. Bad people are still people. Correction: people who do bad things are still people.

I believe these things with all my heart, yet I have a very hard time sitting at a dinner table or having a laugh with someone whose present or past disgusts me. If I could sit with a white slave master from waybackwhen and gain some knowledge or insight that'd prove valuable in the here and now, maybe it'd be worthwhile, but having a genuine moment of bonding or humor? That'd cut me to the quick. My conscience is such that loooong after the event was over, I'd feel like I betrayed those whose backs bore cross-hatched scars from decades of enslavement. I'd feel like I held the whip, myself.

I don't know any slave-master, today but I wonder if those who have robbed, killed, beaten, abused, or generally mistreated those they share a planet with... I wonder if these people, those that I don't already have deep friendships or family ties to, will forever be outside of my reach. I wonder if I'll always be outside of theirs.

And I wonder what that says about me and my place in this world.

Your thoughts?


Son of Blog-El said...

And I wonder what that says about me and my place in this world.

It means you're human.

The reason you can get past what a holiday or an event original origins is because they can mean whatever you want them to mean. To you.

If a person purposely burns down your house or hurts a loved one, no matter what that person does, you will always have that between you. You might forgive, but never forget.

West said...

Good point.