Monday, November 10, 2008

The Science of Hope

I envisioned this blog as a place to engage in an exploration of race, culture, tolerance and the too-often divisive nature of our nation's culturegeist.

I use that term to describe the mass subconscious as it relates to how we see each other and ourselves. What irks me is that it seems we've developed a mental laziness, a lethargic tolerance of fear-based intolerance that runs totally contrary to the ideals and principles upon which this nation was founded.

It is my opinion that the media plays a huge role in how we perceive ourselves and hence, I make an attempt to look at how the media covers and reports race to better gauge our culturegeist.

So I was fascinated by an article I just read in the Science section of the New York Times that examines how tolerance and racial coexistence can expand and heal - just as much as racism can constrict and damage. The article, written by Benedict Carey, offers a compelling look from a scientific viewpoint at how the simple act of taking time to learn to trust and get to really know the individual from a race or culture different from one's own can have a virus-like effect the expands outward exponentially.

It suggests that a metaphysical healing of our nation's deep racial divisions is entirely possible and scientifically plausible. For generations American's have become adept at tucking people into tiny little boxes where we classify, assume and ultimately shape our perception of an entire people - based on an encounter or experience with one or a few people.

A black guy mugged my grandmother so all black people are dangerous criminals; a white man refused my uncle a job so all white people are vindictive racists; a cab driver of Arabic descent drove past me to pick up a white passenger on the street so all cab drivers who look like they are from the mid-east hate and fear black people; my great grandmother was raped and brutalized by a Japanese soldier in Nanking, China during the occupation of mainland China during WWII so all Japanese are violent

The Times article reinvigorates my sense of hope that we are just as able to humanize one another if we can learn to stop dehumanizing one another and therefore evolve humanity as a whole. Not by complex and costly scientific or sociological experiments, or bloated government initiatives; but by exploring the human instinct to trust rather than fear; to feel unconditional love rather than illogical hate.

I think the recent election of our 44th President is a glaring example that we can cast aside our fear and mistrust, challenge the limitations that have shackled ALL Americans for so long and move past the stereotypes that blind us to the immense and unlimited possibilities of true human evolution and racial harmony.

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