I say think and thought a lot. Too much I know. Blame Mr. Foster. He was my 10th grade algebra teacher. He never talked about thinking but he had, on his cork board, a big poster with one word. With a blue background and big black letters, it said - THINK.
Truly, by then I didn't need much encouragement. I had already begun to question some of the things I was brought up to believe. Sure, Muslims were infidels. But were Catholics and campbellites* and holy rollers* going to hell too? Just because they weren't Baptists? And what about those names? Wasn't that the same as the jerk who had failed two grades by the 7th and lived just to torment us? Hey fatty!* Hey sissy boy!* I think it was about that time I learned my first curse word - asshole. But it was awhile yet before I began to think.
It was about the time I saw Mr. Foster's poster. By then I had become aware of things like segregation and labotomies and hate crimes. But it really didn't take much thought to hate these things. Just a little would do. Because society outside of my little backward part of the world had already begun to grapple with those issues. So my first thought was that all you need do is accept change as it comes along, just stay current, just stay in
And that was fine for awhile. But only awhile. Soon there was this nagging realization that somewhere somebody had to think first - that nothing changed as long as everyone just kept up. It wasn't good enough. That society does not lead enlightenment, it follows.
Somebody has to look at integration and think and say that it is not enough. Somebody has to empathize with the people and groups that suffer the humiliation of degrading names and say that's wrong. Somebody has to say Muslims are not infidels.
I will throw in one caveat here. There are some things I doubt I will ever accept. For example, snake handlers. I'm sorry folks but I can't wrap my arms around that.
So what is the point?
We have not reached the epitome of human enlightenment and understanding in August of 2013. I am not sure we have even come close. And here is the point - just because society deems something acceptable or unacceptable doesn't make it so. We need to think, to examine our beliefs and not be satisfied to simply stay current. And folks I may lose some of you here but I have to be honest. That includes our religious beliefs. My Father was a fundamentalist Baptist preacher, he practiced what he preached and in many ways he was a wonderful man. In fact that is what was said at his funeral. But there are many things he was wrong about and it was not easy coming to terms with that.
*I apologize for the names I've used here. I felt I had no choice since I needed to establish a base for my argument. And all of the concepts are things people have heard before. I needed to refresh people's minds if possible so I decided once again to walk on the razor's edge.