Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We have overcome, havenít we?


   There is a certain naïveté, cultural or religious, that suggests that we humans have evolved beyond ancient dark attitudes, expressed in sexism, racism, homophobia and religious persecution. While it would be wonderful if it were true, it’s hard to make a compelling case that it is. And, it is dangerous to live with the pretense that all is well when it is not.
    It would be nice to think that the election of a black president has moved America into a post-racial society and that we need no longer worry about racism or to stand up against hate speech, and those who spew it.
    It would be nice to think that we will continue to treat women’s health issues the way that would be best for the patient and doctor. It would be great not to have to worry about whether there are enough women’s health clinics or that there would be no possibility that women would ever ever be denied the right to make medical decisions regarding their own bodies without the reach of government into the most private parts of their lives.
    It would be nice to think that the most civil of civil rights, the right to choose whom to love, would also include the right to make a lifetime commitment to that person without the interference of limiting laws.
    In this kind of tolerant world, we would obviously not need to worry about ancient hatreds like anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, disturbing results released last week provide plenty of cause for concern.
    A survey by the European Unions’ Fundamental Rights Agency found anti-Semitism increasing in Europe. Seventy-six percent of respondents believed anti-Semitism had increased over the past five years, leaving nearly one-third of European Jews to mull emigration. Could the future actually include the same horrors as the past for their children?
    Much of what we see is what we would just as soon not see. When we do see it, however, we must speak out against those old hatreds, old prejudices, old excuses to make ourselves victims of the dangerous “other.” We must be a voice for justice, to protect each other, and to stand with those who have chosen to risk standing with those who are unwilling allow injustice to triumph.
    History is not an inevitable march toward a better world. Surely, the 20th century, the most bloody in human history, marked by genocide as a tactic of political ideology, has taught us that the upward trajectory demands vigilance against our darkest instincts.




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