Monday, April 8, 2024

If Everyone Were My Dad...

My dad once said, "If everyone in the world were Joe Matt (his professional music name), a little girl could wander out into the streets of New York City at three in the morning and she would be brought home safe."

I think I have mentioned this statement before. But he was right. My dad -- and you, I'm sure; and I -- would never hurt a little girl. But there are people who would. 

Can you imagine? There are people who would hurt a lost little girl. 

This morning, I heard a musician being interviewed on the radio. He is releasing an album of retro-sounding songs (70s era-sounding) and one of his songs, intentionally echoing Marvin Gaye, simply asks: How long will racism and disharmony last? Why can't we see each other as brothers and sisters? It's 2024. 

Apparently "we" can't. But I can. And you can, right? I see my fellow humans as just that: my fellow humans. Each of us is flawed, many of us are annoying and we all clearly see our physical and cultural differences. No one is actually "color-blind." But I see all humans as, intrinsically, of equal worth. Misdeeds can change that (like hurting little girls), but intrinsically, from the starting line of birth, we are all brothers and sisters who deserve equal treatment. 

Who are these people who aren't like you, me and my dad?

This morning, I heard more about Ukraine. More than 20,000 children have been taken hostage by Russia. Children. Where are the "Joe Matts"? 

Either we are all awful, or George Carlin was right that individuals are great, but when they get into groups the problems start. 

Are the majority forced into, say, war, by the minority who have the power? Or, do the minority with the power figure out a way to spread a disease through the minds of the common person that convinces those people that atrocities are ok because of circumstance?

All I can think when I see or hear news about Ukraine or Gaza is: people are horrible. I can see one side as more justified than the other, but, in the end, as Steinbeck once said, "All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal." In this sense, human kind is a failure. It's hard to believe we haven't put killing others behind us.

Will we ever just stop hurting each other? It seems like a such a simple task. Carl Sandburg had the solution: "Someday they will give a war an nobody will come." 

Well, if everyone were me or my dad (or you?) this could happen. War could stop tomorrow. Cruelty could stop tomorrow. 

But how many of us are like Joe Matt? Can there be so many cruel people in the world? Maybe most of us are evil. Maybe most of us are racist. Maybe most of us want to hurt others because it makes us feel powerful. 

I don't know. Maybe you are not as good a person as my dad and me. Somebody isn't.

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