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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Divided We Fall

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

Liberation-(noun)-the act or fact of gaining equal rights or full social or economic opportunities for a particular group.

Iím sad.

Perhaps thatís the wrong word; maybe it should be bewildered, or confused. Iím not certain I know which word fits the way I feel at this moment.

Having grown up in the South during segregated times; Iím old enough to remember how we used to live. In looking back on those years I think to myselfÖthat was stupid. There was absolutely no call for the division we lived under for all of those years. Segregation was stupid. Slavery was stupid. But you know, I didnít make the rules so donít blame me. I could change the rules, which is what I choose to do by the way I looked at other members of our society and I could raise my children to respect the rights of others and to treat others as they themselves would want to be respected.

But you know I must have been asleep these past forty or so years since we became an integrated society. Iíve been going to church all of those years and not once have I heard any of my pastors denounce any other race in our country or lay blame at the doorstep of anyone else but ourselves. I have been under the impression that we were making progress in this country when it came to racial matters. I did not realize that I was mistaken.

And mistaken I have been. As I listen to the sermons preached in Reverend Wrightís church in Chicago last week and his apparent hatred for white Americans, I cannot help but wonder how much of this is happening in other churches throughout the country. Here, my family and I have been sitting in the pews Sunday after Sunday listening to love and respect for all while other Christian churches are preaching a doctrine of Ďliberationí theology that puts the blame for their social ills on my back. Iím sorry but, the truth of the matter is that I never owned any slaves, my parents never owned any slaves and their parents never owned any slaves. What happened before that I do not know.

But let me ask you this, how do we as Americans, not Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans or African-Americans but Americans who were born in this country get past these societal issues that continue to drag us down at every juncture? Iíve said this and Iíll say it again, slavery was wrong, but so was indentured servitude. The slave trade could not have flourished without the aid and assistance of some of the citizenry of a number of African nations. Did that make it right, of course not and no one in their right mind thinks so in this day and age.

But, there are injustices in every personís life, yours as well as mine. We donít have enough time to discuss them in this column. Injustice isnít a new thing; I suppose Adam and Eve felt they were dealt with rather sharply for eating an apple. Old Jacob certainly wasnít happy when he found out he had to wait 14 years to marry Rachel instead of 7.

But you know, unlike what one of presidential candidates said last week, I donít think of myself as a Ďtypical white personí. I donít weigh myself down with bias and prejudices for other people just because they donít look like me or even think like me. They are my fellow country men and women, they are Americans to me. They are what this country was founded about in the first place.

Do we have problems in this country, sure, what country doesnít? Are we making progress towards the resolution of these problems? Iíd like to think so.

But you know one of my pastors used to tell me that ďunless we can learn to get along with each other here in the nasty now and now, it sure going to be difficult living with other in the sweet bye and bye.Ē

I hope Iím wrong and that what we saw last week is an aberration and not the norm. I would like to believe that and that we as Americans, are making strides towards better relationships between our varied ethnic groups rather than greater division. Itís time we did.

Iím not blaming youÖ..donít blame me.

I think someone said a little over 200 years agoÖ ďUnited we stand, but divided we fall.Ē

I think those words are probably more appropriate today than ever before.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

March 27, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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