A year of confusion and expectations
Success or failure is in the eye of the beholder. The year 2014 has been a clear example of confusing differences of opinion and expectations. As we said in last week’s column, discussions of race are affected by the eyes of the beholders.
We offer three criteria: (1) the different versions of the golden rule of all the great religions, (2) the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is incorporated into the constitutions of most of the 148 nations in the U.N., and (3) as we wrote last week, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s double concern of nonviolence as the method and non-waiting as the practice for advancing human rights in the Civil Rights Movement. Not adhering to these principles hinders successful interpretation of issues of race.
The tragic assassination of two New York police officers of color has heightened tensions in New York City and around the country. Shifting emphasis to minimize or marginalize discussions of race hinders movements for civil and human rights. The key is teaching people how to fish (Nellie Stone Johnson’s “no education, no jobs, no housing”) and not preventing them from learning to fish, making them dependent on government and nonprofit organizations that, in reality, hold them back.
Two thousand fourteen is bringing other concerns to 2015. Will Republicans who will now control both houses of Congress work with the current president, or will they become more driven to obstruct and undermine, further weakening our democratic institutions as our strength comes from unity, not division? Our democratic institutions will be thoroughly tested. How will the beholding eyes of the future interpret the strides we make in 2015?
Will those strides include democracy, free thought and speech that allows us to debate civil and human rights for all, not just for a small controlling group? Who will fight to maintain history’s human right to witness interpretations of history that feature fairness, opportunity, and justice for all?
Two new threats to our domestic tranquility: a new cold war with Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran, displaying hostility and mistrust toward us and our allies, now able to reach us through cyber warfare or missile warfare, as we each let ours eyes that behold interpret the other?
The West maintains it is Russians, Chinese and North Koreans who are the bad people, whereas they maintain Americans and Europeans are the bad people, each with a similar eye of beholding when it comes to one of the most dangerous new movements each sees together for 2015: ISIS, seeking to become a sovereign state by any means necessary, with the goal to impose a single way to behold the political and religious face of the Middle East, Europe and America.
We applaud President Obama taking the long overdue bold step to finally work to normalize relations with Cuba after 54 years. In their eye of beholding, let it be us that they see with whom they can cooperate.
And so, as we enter a new year, we reflect on how to behold 2015. Let’s not wait for time and history to determine correct and wrong. Let’s behold and act on it. Certainly the strength and the fiber of America’s people and the strides of her democratic institutions will be thoroughly tested.
Will the eyes of the beholders see our leaders providing assistance to those who truly need education, jobs and housing or continue to see that most welfare assistance continues to go to the upper-middle-class leadership classes?