When I was still a young man, I wrote a science fiction novel. Even with far less of a critical eye and ear than I have now, I recognized that it sucked. I made the prudent decision NOT to send it to editors for publishing consideration.
Here’s the principal lesson I learned: Writing good science fiction is hard AF!
But still, I loved the undergirding theme of that unpublished novel: Human evolution is not something that occurs only in the past, but it is a process that is ongoing.
And that the evolutionary steps we take as a species aren’t obliged to move in a forward motion.
These days, especially, I think of that premise more and more. Lately, several pieces on the Internet sounded, to my ear at least, incensed by a remark that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made. He said that most Americans live principled lives with integrity. Most Americans cherish the values that made this country great. Yet, ten or fifteen percent were not very good people.
Is that such a shocking statement? All we have to do is open our eyes and hearts to see that there are significant numbers of people still fighting the Civil War.
Still preserving their inherent racism and other prejudices as though in amber.
Still falling for the tired pubescent trope of “my group is better than your group.”
Still valuing celebrity and machismo over wisdom in our choice of leaders.
Still pretending that incivility will make us more competitive in all social, financial, and political battles we wish to “win.”
Still falling for the lie that is the American Dream.
Still practicing “religions” whose dogmas are designed to favor one human “tribe” over another.
Yeah. I get it. Absolutely. I get why Joe Biden made his comment.
But he may have been guilty of underestimation.
Having grown up in a small southern town in the 1950s and 1960s, I am in a good position to know why several businesses in the community where I live now erected “Blue Lives Matter” signs when Black Lives Matter became a movement. And it has everything to do with the illogical conclusion that “if they get theirs, there won’t be enough for us.”
If Black Americans receive the same opportunities, respect, and protections as White Americans—opportunities, respect, and protections that are not “given” by one group to another, but are, supposedly, guaranteed by our status as Americans—then White Americans are somehow diminished. In spirit. In earning and spending power. In power status.
Hopefully, no more than fifteen percent still base their existences on how much they can get through the exploitation and the threat of danger to the “outgroup”—in this case, people “of color.”
Or who are threatened by the possibility, as remote as it feels now, that all Americans might enjoy the rights, privileges, and protections one expects from their citizenship. Like the deplorable Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase, who accuses Black Lives Matter and other organizations whose charters emphasize justice and equality of trying to “erase” White culture, history and individuals themselves.
Or who paid so little attention in their history or civics classes to understand that our society was built on the ingenuity, creativity and hard work of immigrants.
I fear that, if Joe is underestimating the number of “deplorables,” then we will find that we have devolved into a species unrecognizable, reprehensible and unworthy of redemption.
By then, it may be too late to reverse course.