I am not a historian and lack the scope and depth of many scholars examining the changes confronting our nation today, Still, I reflect on the Civil Rights movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s and the subsequent periods following those dramatic periods. I also remember the law and order campaigns and Southern strategy that were promulgated in response to the changes that served seemingly to divide us as a nation and institutionalize discrimination against people of color and stoke racial bias.
I remember how leaders of both parties competed for voters by declaring their toughness on crime, but instituted a system of justice that was inherently unbalanced, unjust and unfair to the less fortunate. Coupled with the systemic bias embedded in our financial institutions, the extent of barriers to equality and justice under the law seems beyond the Band-Aid solutions to the deep wounds in our society. I feel we need to come to terms with the scope, history and degree of harm caused to adequately address and create change.
What comes to mind is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established following the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. The process should not be identical, but the scope, breadth and depth of the effort seems to be what is needed for our nation to heal. I see a need for everyone to come together and acknowledge fully the harm done and how nearly every aspect of our society played a part. We need a forum that goes beyond the shouting in the streets, which has been necessary to awaken us all to the tensions that have long simmered, but have been long ignored. I am not sure how we might create a fair forum to hear the harms and heal them. I am sure that we must move fiercely forward in that righteous effort and face down the forces that divide our nation into camps of us versus the other.
I submit this notion not as a solution well defined, but as a prayer to seek guidance and intent to hopefully serve the greater good of the country, if not the world. I am not clear on how to reach out, but would like to start the conversation.