This week’s post is going to be a little different. Different in that, I had no idea what I was going to talk about when I started writing this. I have tons of topics and lots of things I’m passionate about, but decided to just sit down and see what comes out. (I’m trying to put less pressure on myself to conqueror world peace with every post!)
My stepson is training as a kick boxer and occasionally he participates in matches. They charge admission, have lights, music, a fancy ring etc… A few months ago, my wife and I were attending one of these matches. Besides kickboxing, they also have grappling and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) matches. In one of the MMA fights, there was this huge guy fighting this smaller guy. I noticed the smaller guy actually seemed to be doing pretty good. About halfway through the fight, this younger kid sitting next to me leans over and says, “man, that black guy is really good, I think he’s winning.” It was then I realized he was talking about the smaller guy, and now I realized the smaller guy was black. I hope that’s the “pc” word these days. I don’t know, his skin was darker than mine, and the white guy’s skin was also a lot whiter than mine. Of course I tan sometimes, I’m a bit of a metro sexual though so…
I’ve made an effort over the past few years to look for other factors when trying to distinguish between two people of different color, race, or even weight for that matter. Yet, in my story above, wasn’t I even doing that when I referred to one guy as “the smaller guy?” Hmm, I don’t know. The point is, I realized that for just a few minutes, I didn’t see any color whatsoever. Just two guys in a ring beating the crap out of each other. Then hugging afterwards; which was the best part of the fight if you ask me.
rac-ism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
When walking down the street and I see someone of different race or color approaching, I notice. Does that make me racist? I hope not. I suppose according to the definition, it does not. I do not see myself as superior or having the right to rule. I make a conscience effort to look them in the eye, to say “hi,” or just show them a smile. It feels good when they return the gesture. There’s a lot of panhandlers and some homeless people roaming the streets around my office building. Sometimes I change to the other side of the street to avoid walking past them, does that make me racist or judgmental against homeless people? Maybe so, and I am working on that. I am more aware of it now, and often remind myself of that as I stay my course and even attempt to say hello or strike up a conversation. I often drop a dollar or two into their hand, but it’s for selfish reasons because it makes me feel good. Some people would say, “they’re just going to go buy booze or drugs with it.” I don’t care, they can use it for whatever they want. Whether I give it to them or not, they’re going to get their next fix if they need it. As a recovered alcoholic, I know what it’s like when you need a drink to survive.
During my last alcoholic bottom I slept under a bridge downtown because it was closer to the liquor store. Plus I was getting too weak from lack of food that walking the two blocks between there and my loft was getting pretty difficult. It seemed reasonable at the time. It’s funny how when you’re in addiction or not thinking clearly how logical some things can seem. I guess maybe these days I know I could be that guy standing on the street corner asking for money. If I don’t continue to grow spiritually, I can be back there again pretty quick. As I grow spiritually, my view of myself and the world changes. I see myself and others more as “a part of” as opposed to “apart from.”
There is only one way to get full satisfaction from life and that is to live the way you believe God wants you to live.
–Thought For The Day, Hazelden Twenty Four Hours a Day
It is my belief, that God wants me to love all people and do my best to show people respect, regardless of their color, religion, or anything else I perceive as different. And that includes myself! It does take practice. But hopefully some day that few minutes of seeing no color, will turn into something more.