Once again Sheila Kennedy explores an issue that is puzzling and concerning to me. Her blog post today is titled Lying with Impunity. Her key point is “We have these embarrassingly unqualified candidates because we have large numbers of civically-illiterate citizens.”
This has been apparent time and again. The debate around Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Governor’s illegal attempts to reject Syrian refugees, among many others, reveal that many Hoosiers have no understanding of the principles this country was founded on and how our government is supposed to work.
Lack of education is definitely part of the problem, and addressing that is crucial if we are to correct the problem, and be able to continue to try to operate as a democracy. The importance of this is why Friends often chose to maintain their own schools.
But I think this climate of accepting lies from candidates points to a deeper and more sinister problem. Many people who consider themselves white feel threatened and scared now. Our economic system has failed the vast majority of us, and most of us are struggling with a dramatically declining standard of living. These conditions usually result in the search for a scapegoat to blame for the things that have spun out of our control.
At the same time, the demographics of the country are rapidly changing, and soon people who consider themselves white will no longer be in the majority.
Unexpressed is how those who consider themselves white know they have been privileged in many ways, and are beginning to learn how many other ways they have had advantages they have taken for granted. And knowing, and learning more about how the burden of those privileges have been borne by people of color and the poor.
Which leads to the fear of how people in positions of privilege now will be treated when they no longer are in control. Which leads to desperate hopes that the slogans of politicians promising to fix these problems and protect them might be true (despite the actual facts). And also leads to continued marginalization of anyone who isn’t considered white.
We can rise above this, but only with education and by finding ways to deal with these fears. The only way I know to do that is to get people who usually don’t spend time together to change that, and get to know each other. Anytime we spend time with other people, we discover our shared humanity. I encourage you to seek out and create opportunities for people to connect to each other.