by Lincoln Sayger
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We have many problems in our culture. Unfortunately, one of our cultural problems is that, when we have a problem, we spend far too much time trying to find reasons why those problems stem from a particular pet hate of our own, regardless of how much or how little actual causal connection there is between the thing, or the people, we don't like and the problem that has grabbed our collective societal attention.
The problem is that, more often than not, those people, or those things, have little or nothing to do with the problem with which we've been confronted. Violence and product abuse are blamed on the products, and we call for bans or restrictions on the product, when the cause of the violence or product abuse was not the objects but the people who chose to misuse them. Statistics regarding violence are used to blame weapons, usually ignoring the fact that most of the incidents in the statistic are related not to weapons but to gang activity. Drugs and products that produce vapors are restricted, ignoring the fact that it wasn't the attractiveness of the effect of these drugs that caused their abuse to become prevalent. Foreigners are blamed for economic effects, ignoring the fact that the dominoes were set in motion by other economic and regulatory factors, without which foreign labor would not be attractive to businesses. And people who disagree with us are blamed for a whole host of problems, whether or not their beliefs actually have any detrimental impact on those problems.
The time has come for our society to awaken from this nightmare caused by a dreamy expectation that, if it weren't for 'those people', our society would be better. Those people are made in the image of God, just as you are. Those people have perspectives that may be valuable in the most unexpected situations. Those people have rights, the same rights as you do. And while I'm not suggesting that we should accomodate their every belief and whim with our political system (such an aim is impossible; no policy will please everyone), we can, and have in the past, have political policies that will allow everyone the same opportunity to use what they have to reach the best possible outcome for their situation. Not the same outcome as everyone else; that's not ever going to happen, under any system, for the only way to make everyone equal in outcome is to ensure that nobody ends up with anything. We can't all be kings. But we can all be residents of the same society, living in peace with one another, showing respect and love to all equally. Remember, also, that your family was probably once one of 'those people' at some point in your lineage.
But we can't reach that state of egality without letting go of this ridiculous notion of blaming other people for all our problems. If some guy breaks into my house and steals my television, he's to blame and should be punished for what he stole. But he shouldn't be blamed for my difficulty in finding a job, nor should his distant cousins who've never been near my house be blamed or punished for my lack of a television.
What we need to improve our society is not political policy, at all. It's love. We need to treat others with respect. We need to wish them all the blessings we have. We need to avoid painting people with a broad brush without ignoring legitimate evidence of participation in destructive behavior. We need to recognize that every person is an individual with individual beliefs.
And we need to stop treating objects as though they had overpowering effects on the will of people. People make choices. People are, nearly always, responsible for the choices they make. The tools they use to carry out those choices are not the cause of the problem, and removing them will not remove the choices people make.
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