by Kent Sterling
Since human beings stood upright, we have hated each other for confoundingly silly reasons – religion, nationality, color of hair, jealousy over intellect and wealth, and many more.
For a few minutes less than the history of our species, people who were hated expressed their dislike for being hated.
Every generation feels like they are the lynchpins in finally winning the battle against hate, and leading our society into an era of enlightenment as though they have embraced a level of wisdom heretofore unseen from humans.
The latest smart people are students on the campus of the University of Missouri who finally became fed up with the relentless racism for which that state is very well known. A protest, hunger strike, and boycott from football activities by Gary Pinkel’s Tigers led to the ouster of the university president, who was admittedly slow to act when students expressed racism in a variety of rancid ways.
Students are celebrating as though the war has been won, but sadly, evidence is lacking – again – that a single mind has been changed.
In the 1960s, cities burned because of race riots, and still there was hate. Peaceful marches were met with fire hoses and beatings. Still there was hate. In the 1990s, riots exploded after the acquittal of those who beat Rodney King. Still there was hate. Hell, it wasn’t until 150 years ago that people in the southern states of America were prohibited from owning African Americans.
Enlightenment comes much harder than hatred to human beings.
I love what the students at Mizzou did because it reflects a hope born of ignorance that changing the wiring of humanity can happen. That violence either in protest or in trying to quell the protesters was never used shows small-step evolution toward reason.
Because I have seen generations of Americans do the same thing, and read about many more stretching back to the dawn of man, I know the result will be a reversion to the mean, and that’s a tragedy.
The impulse to argue with those permanently burdened by an impulse to respond with anger to virtually everything is strong. There is nobility in banging your forehead against that wall of loathing, and maybe one day in another millennium it will come down.
But as long as people fly planes into buildings to express a belief, shout racial epithets from pickup trucks at students in Columbia, Missouri, or hire only those who best resemble themselves, we will be a poor reflection of our potential as forces for love and goodness.
When some of us show we know better, all can bask in their light. Hopefully the rest take a moment to learn from them, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
Universities are places where learning happens, and the Mizzou students who can rightfully claim victory over administrators who refused to see what has always existed as wrong and repellent are going to learn an unpleasant lesson the next time a pickup truck full of morons shout the n-word at a black student.
People are dumb, and many of them hate because they too lazy not to.