In this modern age we live in we all consider each other to be equal, correct? Day in and day out when going about our own business, meeting and speaking with other people, we see everyone as precisely that.
Another person, a human, a sentient piece of walking space dust, whatever you like to call us. We all know biologically we’re the same. Everyone has five and half litres of blood, 206 bones when we grow up, and billions and billions of itty-bitty neurons pulsing in our brains.
Yet some of us think we are superior to others. Again we all know the reasons why some people think themselves above the rest of us. The list is a long one: class, religion, gender, wealth, race etc. From atop the grandest ivory towers men in tailored suits and women in pearls and gowns think of themselves as deities, or as gifts to the world. Why? This is how it has always been.
Very rarely in human history, even after 400 generations and billions of lifetimes, have we all been at peace with one another. In our time, present generations are no exception to rule. Michael Brown, the black, unarmed teenager shot by white police officer Darren Wilson is a recent example. Massive protests and outrage have erupted there because Wilson was not indicted with murder or charged at all.
Riots across the city forced the police to stand against the outraged African-American community in full riot gear. People have been badly injured; in one instance a car slammed through a large group of protesters.
One moment stood out from the madness. Denvonte Harte, a twelve-year-old boy who attended protests in Portland, against the jury’s decision, on November 25th held a free hugs sign. A photograph taken by a free-lance journalist depicting a tearful Harte embracing a white police officer later went viral over Facebook.
Police Sergeant Bret Barnum approached Harte with open arms and embraced him. Even though this act of simple empathy didn’t take place in Ferguson it was a powerful moment nonetheless which shows there is always hope for reconciliation. It’s an example of tolerance and understanding we can all learn from.
It’s not large scale protest or the might of a bullet that will change our attitudes. Our country knows the hurt and suffering invisible divisions cause. We built these transparent walls through bigotry and false hierarchies.
Only as one and only as equals can we break these barriers. But how do we do that? Ordinary people keeping little promises, fulfilling everyday acts of kindness and love. Over time and through great effort, a day may come when we all stand as one.
Great change must occur first, but if we all follow in the path of young Devonte Hart we will someday achieve great change. Racism hasn’t gone away, but I fully believe in the future it will.