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Would You Write Me Off As Unredeemable?

Here in America in today's society it seems like everyone is becoming more and more polar opposite of each other and there is no Common Ground between the extremes on either side. It seems commonplace these days to hear people say that they want absolutely nothing to do with anyone that is on the opposite side of that person's beliefs. But I would dare to ask you if you do not offer a way for someone to meet you in the middle or come to your side how can you ever expect them to see your point of view? How can you expect them to see your compassion, your Humanity, your struggles and your concerns? The us and them mentality has taken hold in America so deeply that it is a pandemic all on its own. and right about now you probably telling yourself. but they are not serious, or they are the unbelievers. or you're telling yourself that you are right in every way and they are wrong. The mental gymnastics necessary to make yourself more valuable or more important and most importantly justifying your position of view. without offering a bridge of understanding, a bridge of Love to allow the other to reach into your world, and maybe join you in your fight, in your cause. Those mental gymnastics is the opposite of love, the opposite of caring and the opposite of being humane. maybe just maybe the two of you could find some common ground that can be the basis of a lifelong friendship, even though you don't agree on everything. Those that know me would tell you that I am a caring person. They would also tell you that I put myself last generally. They would tell you that I respect everyone's religious beliefs even if their religious beliefs aren't for me. People would tell you that I am not a racist person, that I see the humanity and everyone regardless of their skin color. So let me ask you am I beyond Redemption. That I am the OTHER so far removed and away from you that I cannot be reached? Would you say I cannot understand your struggles, and your position? Would you throw me away as a Nazi unworthy to have the opportunity to learn a better way and to become a better person? Simply because I grew up in a environment that created so many of those people now labeled as Nazis. I grew up in a very religious family, a Christian family. I grew up in a very Republican family. I grew up in a family that claims to not be racist but there was always the racist undertones that existed in the fabric of my family, for most of my family those racist undertones still exist. And even though my parents had some friends that was not white. the vast majority of the people we ever interacted with other than in a church setting we're White. And even though in my family's circles as I was growing up would never have claimed to be racist in public. their behavior said otherwise in the windows, the sly comments always hinted to the fact that white people were better. they were wrong and some of them are still wrong. So a friend of mine said after Trump lost his re-election "that we must offer Trump supporters even though they are Nazis a way back to sanity" and I have been thinking about those words for months now. and I would dare to say that she was almost right but she forgot about the other half of those so-called Nazis as she put it. There are those that have been radicalized in the process of Republican Trumps fever. But then there are those that grow up in a environments so entrenched and their white privilege that they cannot see undertones and racist beliefs perpetuated through their upbringing and now through their own behavior. but they have never been on this side to come back from. But instead they never knew this side of humanity's existence, the side of society that isn't White. And because of that simply saying we need to offer them a way back is not enough. we must offer them a way to learn and come to this side for the first time. They say that the apple does not fall far from the tree. People say this because they are implying that children believe generally is the same as their parents and the other people they are around as they grow up. These people rarely stray from those beliefs talk to them with words or body language and or their social environment. But people can change, once they're on their own they can slowly make the journey to be so far from the position of their ancestors and their parents. I am one of those people. everyday of my life I strive to step further away from the mindset of my upbringing and the environment in which that was. Everyday I strive to be more kind, caring, humane, respectful of other people's beliefs cultures and religions. I strive to look pass my own white privilege that I have had in my lifetime. I strive to understand those that have not had that privilege. I strive to diversify friendships with people that are not my skin tone. I tell you all of this because if any of you would have known the 16 year old me I would have been labeled in today's society as a Nazi, as a white supremacist. I've had to drag myself away from that world. Leaving behind old friendships to never talk to them again. because I knew that if I associated with those people before I could grow strong enough to see the world beyond the bubble I was raised in then I would be trapped in that bubble forever. It has not been easy to learn to be more compassionate, more caring and more humane. when the vast majority of the programming I got from my society and my family growing up was everything but. That said the world has changed a lot even in my mirror 40 years. And even the mindset of much older people than myself has managed to come to a more understanding mindset of our society and other people's struggles. So next time that little thought creeps into your head that they are the other, or a Nazis, or they are the extreme religious and or they are whatever it is you're puting in that spot. remember that you need to offer them not only a way back if they strayed into extremism, but also a way for those coming to this side of humanity for the first time. In the same way I was wrong about so many things when I was much younger. I am still trying to be better and do better every day. I can never right the wrongs I did in the past. I regret so many things every day of my life. Things I said, things I did to people simply because their skin color wasn't White in my teenage years. I torture myself and blame myself more than anyone will ever know. I have so much guilt and shame. And the only thing I can do to try to make it right since I cannot change the past, Is to live each day striving to be more kind, caring, humane. And being willing to learn, while recognizing that I don't know everything. I recognize I may never know as much as I need to know. But everyday I strive to be allies for those people suffering in our society because of racism and discrimination. My guilt and my shame pushes me to be a better person. So next time you think you want to write someone off completely and forever, I asked you to consider to offer them a bridge instead of a wall. you do not have to approve of what they're doing. you do not have to support what they're doing. you do not have to let that into your life in a way that is toxic and negative. However never burn the bridge to allow someone to cross to this side. because the person that may be denied that bridge, may be the person that would have become your biggest Ally. Please remember that the journey to this side is slow and bumpy, and true change of who someone is on the inside rarely if ever happens overnight. instead it is a long slow progression to bettering oneself. © By Josiah James Ingalls

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