I declare myself human

handshake-1By Darla Welchel

About a year ago, I started doing something to protest hate in this world and against those who would strive to keep it alive.
When filling out forms (the older you get, the more you have to do this), it asked my race.
I realized I didn’t like this question. In fact, it felt like, to me, this question does a lot to keep people segregated and keeps hate alive.
I started refusing to answer it, but I knew simply “opting out” was not the answer. So, I began writing in – even though there was no space for it – “Human.”
I know this won’t really make a difference in the scheme of things, but change has to start somewhere no matter how small.
In the recent days, the media has been showering the country with one race-related story or another. And, as often media does, there weren’t any feel-good stories, only those about discord and hate.
In Oklahoma, the current news is all about spending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands to change the names of schools that bare the name of men who lived in the South and fought for the Confederacy.
This is silly, not just because it will tax an already weak education budget, but because, good or bad, these men are a part of our history. Atrocities were committed on both sides of the war.
My cousin posted  a statement on Facebook – just to get a laugh – that since so many denominations of US currency had pictures of former Confederate men, that people shouldn’t use it, instead, they should send all their currency to him.
He got one heated response from a person protesting about the atrocities slaves endured at the hand of these Southerners.
I responded back to this person that my own direct ancestors were put in the Auschwitz concentration camp, because my family wasn’t “German” enough. My maiden name was Selzler – can’t get much more German than that, or so I thought. (Turns out we were Russian Germans)
I also said, “That doesn’t make me hate all Germans. These horrific acts happened in the past and painful as it is, it is still part of world history – lest we forget. This is the present, and I’m looking toward a future where there is no such thing as race. I’m human and I love all humans.”
It should be pointed out, it wasn’t only the South that held slaves; many in the North did as well, there just wasn’t as many. Most of the North decided to stand against the wrong that was being done to other humans and fight – often their brothers – in one of our county’s deadliest wars.
And if people will truly look at history, all cultures – even those from Africa – used slaves, and in some countries, the “Cast” system and even slavery are still heavily used today. Not all slavers hunted down innocent villagers in Africa to get slaves; many were purchased from other Africans.
The United States is not the only country with an ugly past. The things that were done in the name of inhabiting (conquering) are unspeakable, disturbing and heartbreaking. And not just concerning slaves, look what was done with the first inhabitants of America. And yes, I will agree, there is still a lot of inequality taking place in the “Good Ol USA.”
But, I believe it is the overuse and over reactionary responses from the media and on social media that is keeping the hate alive.
The past is there to remind us how NOT to be – to remind us NOT to repeat the ugliness that took place. No one alive today has been through that shameful part of the United State’s past that included slavery. And, I’m pretty sure that no one alive traveled the Trail of Tears. But to pretend it didn’t happen, or worse, to act like it still happens today is asinine.
If we humans don’t put all that hate aside and start to try to mend our differences, we will once again be plunged into hate-driven war between ourselves. Instead of grouping up in hate groups, we need to learn from the past and move forward to a civilized society of love and equality.
America was founded on differences; difference of religious beliefs is what drove the earliest settlers here in the first place. We need to embrace our uniqueness and start treating each other with love and not hate. Often times hating one’s self is what causes them to hate others.
But, we cannot simply ignore our past just because it offends some. It is what it is, and in spite of it all, America is still one of the best countries to live in.
Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hate, hate hurts all humans.

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