Recently, I’ve been drawn to the subject of, blame. Who’s to blame, for what, when, how and why, and where and when does it end? Or does it? I’m fairly certain I can’t provide answers, but I hope the questions make us think, so here goes.
At any point along our planet’s history, someone is to blame for hurting someone else. Blacks have been oppressed by whites, aboriginals by again . . . Caucasians; the Japanese by Chinese, the Ukrainians by Russians, Poles and who knows who else. Catholics by the Church of England (namely Elizabeth I,) the Jews, by yeah, just about everybody, women by men, gays by straights, and on and on it goes.
So, here’s my question. How long does it, or how long will it take before the offended parties forgive? How long before generations who weren’t even born yet continue to feel shamed or punished for what their ancestors did? And why is it that some people don’t get any compensation, financially or otherwise, while others are able to hold their grievances perpetually over someone else’s heads ?
I like to think of myself as an enlightened, sensitive person. I’m mindful of people’s pain, and I know that telling these stories over and over again is healing for the person, and in some circumstances, a nation, but surely there has to come a time when we can put hurts and grievances to rest; when the statute of limitations runs out.
This doesn’t mean, bad things didn’t happen and others weren’t hurt, it means that I shouldn’t have to constantly be reminded that black people were slaves, and it’s all my fault. Having slaves and the way blacks were treated was deplorable! But here’s the thing. I didn’t do it. I never owned a slave. No one I knew owned a slave. Should an entire race have to continue to feel as if they did something wrong, even when they weren’t born yet? Is it really, the sins of the father? And for how long?
We institute laws, our society changes, albeit painfully slowly at times; isn’t that enough? How long should any of us keep grievances alive?
My grandparents despised each other. One set was Ukrainian, the other, Polish. Why? Because injustices and atrocities were carried out one against the other. Even though I was half Polish, I never claimed this half of myself, because for the most part I was raised by a Ukrainian side, who didn’t speak highly of Poles, (well, at least my baba didn’t.) I understand my grandmother’s hatred towards the Poles, as she was directly affected by their cruelty. I didn’t think much of them either (mostly because my father was an ass – but that’s a story for another day.)
This is how hate is perpetuated – everyone knows this. Hating the particular Poles who did unspeakable things in my grandmother’s village might be acceptable (although, it really isn’t, as we are taught to love our enemies, and do good to those who hurt us,) but to hate ALL Poles for what some of them did, is simply not the way to go.
I think when we bend over backwards to make wrongs right, that’s good, but when we have to remain bent over backwards, that’s not good. That’s when our backs break.
Now, I’m going to say something here that I KNOW will not be popular, but I’m sick and tired about hearing how the blacks were wronged. I can’t watch another movie about slaves, or read another book about whites hanging blacks. Yes, I KNOW it happened. It might have happened to someone’s grandfather, or nephew, but I DIDN’T do it, and to treat me as if I did, is the flip side of coin.
I’m sick of hearing about the plight of the Jews. Yes millions of them were killed in WWII, but so were millions of Ukrainians, and blacks, and Catholics. I didn’t oppress the Jews, and in fact in my grandmother’s village, the Jews owned all the businesses and had all the financial power. (Baba wasn’t fond of Jews either!)
Personally, I don’t care what colour you are, what your religious affiliation, or sexual orientation, but can you PLEASE stop throwing these things continually in my face! Proud to be this! Proud to be that! How about throwing pride out the window, and simply being content to be a human being on Planet Earth?
When injustices occur, we must deal with them on a one to one basis as they happen, and stop throwing all whites or all blacks, or all Jews, or anybody, into one bucket.
There are many injustices and atrocities being carried out as I write this; Congo – the African Continent is rife with genocide, famine, rape. There’s violence being perpetrated in Syria, in Ukraine, and a thousand other places. Aboriginal rights, are finally coming to the forefront – disappearing and murdered women, no clean water, no infrastructure. These are the issues of today. Let’s begin to tackle them.
The United Church of Canada has taken full responsibility for the residential schools that destroyed families and communities. They have publicly apologized and are doing everything they can to make reparations. That’s all that can be done, but once that happens, that’s it, let’s move on and tackle other wrongs.
Just this week, Sharon Lawrence was heard saying that women don’t get paid as much as men in Hollywood. Perhaps not in the same vein as some of the other more horrific things that are going on, but an injustice just the same. Let’s fix it, and move on.
At some point, in order to move to a higher plain of existence and enlightenment, we must begin to view ourselves as “humanity,” rather than blacks, whites, gays, straights, Jews, Catholics, Christians, Muslims, and the thousand other labels we paste on ourselves. It’s difficult to live without labels, because they are identifiers of sorts, but we must stop using them as manipulative tools to shame and punish others.
To everything there is a season, and then that season must end.
Let’s be people. Let’s stop the blame game. Is it difficult to let go? The short answer is . . . yes. The long and more important answer is … we must.
I pray that one day, all wrongs will be made right, all grievances and past hurts will be put to rest. Maybe it isn’t possible, I don’t know, but we’ll never know till we try.