The Wholesaler invited me to write my quarterly column for another year. It is an honor and while they have been great partners and editors, I did hesitate. I had the proverbial “cause for pause” due to the current cancel culture in which we live. This divisiveness continues unabated and is fueled by politicians and media alike. Bombarded with this unabated message, the masses of lemmings engage to self-fulfill the expectation. The transparent strategy seems to be divide and conquer. Is it any longer possible to express an opinion or even simply pose a clarifying question without offending somebody? I mean really, if one has an opinion that contradicts, or is even slightly different, we want them destroyed! Why continue writing when we have reached a point where the downside far outweighs the upside. Have we reached a place where there is a high risk by simply sharing what we think? The safest approach is to simply not write or, if I do, only express down the middle, benign, vanilla opinions. You know, I position myself as an advocate for more books in the library, loving our mothers, and not abusing children or puppies. Note, even advocating for industry profitability invites the disdain of many in this new world in which we live where capitalism is public enemy No. 1 — notwithstanding the taxes paid, jobs created, and billions donated. However, what deep thinking does the innocuous provoke? Also, that’s not me! My other life as an academic puts me in the sanctity of the classroom where, at least at one time, robust debate was not only welcomed but also encouraged. Where people could disagree without being disagreeable. The discussion I would love to see at roundtables throughout our industry and society would answer the following questions that I find myself pondering these days:
If you have a cause of which you are passionate and the issue comes to a head with the “whole world watching” then carpe diem (seize the day). However, to allow the fringe members of your movement to hijack the cause runs the risk of losing those that you began to convert and convince. Your legitimate momentum becomes stalled. My question…how does vandalizing the Ronald McDonald House during the protest help your cause? Could there be any lower point in a parent’s life than not knowing if their child will survive? Yet as you toss and turn throughout the sleepless night bargaining with your God while your child is in a hospital, blocks away you find yourself and your family under attack!
Why does a cause devolve into the insistence of removing the Lincoln Memorial? Is he not the one who stood alone in effecting the Emancipation Proclamation and paid the ultimate price with his very life? Flawless he was not, but what happened to the old verse: “let those among us without sin cast the first stone?”
I am tired of hearing how messed up our country has become. How bad we are. To use the vernacular of the day…how much we suck. While we are indeed not perfect, I believe we are better than the growing narrative suggests. I acknowledge that there are racists in our society, and as long as there is still one, it is too many. However, I do know that our nation is not systemically racist. Think — with 12 percent of the population African American, in a democracy where the majority vote prevails, we elected our first African American president and then reelected. Would that even be possible mathematically in a society that is systemically racist as routinely described?
Why was the journalist who dared offer that “all lives matter” fired on the spot? Apparently, he was expected to be open-minded, encouraged to consider the opinion of others, but not dare offer his own view if it is not aligned. Also, how was his position not aligned?
Why do I live in a city where I can spend the day in Walmart, but not an hour in church? Christmas Eve mass on my TV with popcorn in front of me just did not feel right.
In the city of Chicago, not only were we allowed to protest en masse but encouraged to do so by our mayor, who explained it was our right. The very same Mayor who said if we walk the lakefront even alone, we’re going to jail. It is the ubiquitous double standard that knocks the legs out from under credibility.
I acknowledge that we have work to do with equality. We start with one industry, one company at a time. Our PVF industry is absolutely an industry moving in the right direction to create greater opportunity for those perhaps different from ourselves.
We are not as homogenous as our history once exclusively represented. If a movement seeks equality, I am all in and will lead by example, but it does seem that the extreme of the movement does not seek equality as much as revenge. The latter I have difficulty swallowing. You see too many wake up every day having positioned themselves as victims. They arise as a coiled spring waiting to be “launched.” This is a disservice to those with legitimate grievances, and there are too many legitimate social issues from which to be distracted with the illegitimate that has been manufactured.
One does not change an opinion or allow their thinking to evolve without input or challenge from others to engage in a healthy introspection of one’s irrefutable beliefs. Our nation is so divided at present I would contend this period of division is second only to the American Civil War. Blame certainly goes to the political arena who engage in one bad example after another and the media as well. Perhaps also those, of which there are many, who refuse to hear a voice other than their own. While perhaps naïve, the aforementioned questions I ponder need a robust discussion with the volume, emotion, and hatred tuned down a bit. In the end, do you not feel we may have more in common than we have differences? If so, then why does the narrative exclusively focus on the differences? Dare I suggest perhaps those controlling the narrative have an agenda?
“Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” — Bishop Desmond Tutu