All it takes is a little spark

“Eyes on the Prize” episodes 3 and 4 aired last Sunday. We recorded them for viewing during the week. 5 and 6 air tomorrow at noon in Saint Louis. Still can’t shake two dominant feelings as I watch the retelling of the civil rights struggle: embarrassment and sadness.

The fact that I tended to be somewhat oblivious to the magnitude of what was happening at the time illustrates, to me, how we are historically and culturally conditioned to interpret what we see and hear. Our conditioning also influences what we even bother to pay attention to. All I remember at the time was how mindless I thought the behavior was of those in the southern states. I hadn’t had enough inter-racial experiences to have the visceral reaction I have today.

It was a sad time in our history, and there are vestiges of that same fear and hatred deeply imbedded today. All it takes is a little spark to light the fuse for them to coalesce and bubble to the surface. And there are plenty of folks who still know how to play the game and get those sparks started.

Economic strife, the drum beat of xenophobia, demonizing those who need help, having one of “those people” in the White House, seeing a terrorist behind every bush, imagining that someone is taking our country away from us … all of that creates the perfect storm for foolish, thoughtless, and reckless actions.

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