Eliminate from your social circle everyone who disagrees with your arguments. Disassociate from those who voice an opinion that goes against your own. Walk away from those who walk a different path. Look away from those whose appearance differs from your own.
In time, you’ll find yourself alone.
Our country was once described as the “Great Melting Pot,” because of the amalgamation of different cultures living within city blocks of one another. An ideal society allowing people of different backgrounds to listen and learn from one another. An opportunity for education and to further intellectual growth. Within the forum of a true democracy, where constitutes voiced concerns to elected officials, the great American experiment could continue to meld into a government unlike any construct the world has seen.
Within a single lifetime, America has witnessed the breaking of thresholds. From the first Irish Catholic president elected to office, the first woman seated on the Supreme Court, to the first black president. Individual representatives of groups who once felt the brunt of all its ugliness and anger; obstructed from obtaining work, disallowed from voting, forbidden to drink from the same water fountain. In one lifetime, we have been able to witness a maturation of a collective people, and take pride.
But it’s all a damn lie.
“We’ve given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain’t learnin’
We’re the same sad story that’s a fact
One step up and two steps back”
— Bruce Springsteen
“One Step Up”
In 2017, we have the tools to communicate and educate ourselves like no other generation in the history of mankind. From our smartphones, we can type a question into the ether of the internet and learn the answer within a minute. We can reach out to several hundreds of people within seconds on social media, and from which our thoughts are published instantaneously. Our books are self-published without the rejection of an editor. We are empowered to do great things.
Yet, we choose to go backwards.
We all live within our own echo chambers. Surrounding ourselves with similar beliefs and voices. A congregation of like-minded people who ultimately barricade themselves from anyone else who disagrees with us. It’s what our ancestors did when some of our families willingly moved here. Street blocks were defined by the ethnic groups who resided there. Our personal beliefs shared and bounced back to us from our neighbors. Any contrasting thought would be taboo.
The events at Charlottesville, Va. remind us all that what we may have perceived as the maturation of our society is false. It was all a lie. A large number of people among us choose to outcast anyone who argues, quiet opposing voices, drive, hit and run over those who walk a different path, and look away from those screaming out about atrocities inflicted upon them, all because they look different than us.
Listen. Listen and learn. Listen and if you don’t understand, continue to listen. Walk a mile in another man’s shoes. Step out of your echo chamber, put down the phone, and observe what’s around you through the eyes of another. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. You don’t have to be Christian to believe that. It’s just good advice we once learned from one.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.