Today—STATUES seem to be a major topic of conversation and, to me, it seems like a bit of a distraction from what we really need to be discussing . . . back roads!
BACK ROADS are woven all through our country and most of us have traveled some back roads, those trails from one place to another, sometimes considered a shortcut and sometimes just known as a way to avoid a main road or a busy throughfare.
It seems life can be like that—main roads or back roads, shortcuts or long ways around, a choice of how to get from one place to another.
When I think about statues, I think about why a statue is erected somewhere—
• a marker of an event,
• a remembrance of a loss,
• a person being honored . . .
and it seems that perhaps many of our statues reflect taking a shortcut, a back road to get from one place to another.
Think about racism—
where do you go to if you want to see how we got here? Which road led to our current state of chaos and confusion? Which road that I did not even travel . . .
• the ancient history of slavery in many parts of our world
• Wounded Knee and other atrocities heaped on Native American peoples to expand our country
• the early slave ships bringing people to the “New World” to work the fields for plantation owners
• the Civil War with its many causes and issues
• the Reconstruction period with its extremes
• persecutions of Irish, Chinese, Japanese, and other “non-whites”
• the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the KKK, etc.
• the more recent violence against non-whites
I think our main problem today is that in most cases those involved took “back roads” to get through a time period of challenge and so avoided the “main road” where it would have been necessary to confront themselves and others and acknowledge the “wrongness” of their choices and make the ultimate sacrifices that would have made a definite course correction . . . because actually, we have consistently avoided taking responsibility for the mistreatment of and abuses of many peoples in exchange for getting something we wanted leading to many saying the “ends justify the means” — when it applies to others.
The “back road,” the shortcut, the way to travel unseen to where we wanted to get made it possible to avoid admitting any wrongdoing and saying we should just “move on” without paying the price that would have helped restore respect to those we abused and, ultimately, would have given us a priceless self-respect that is never found on the “back roads.”
The “back road” never required us to admit that we dehumanized the ones we wanted to take something away from, that we called them animals or less than human or a lower species which made it “right’ for us to get what we wanted at their expense—and then we put up statues of those who promoted our “back road” almost as a justifying symbol of the rightness of our “back road.”
It is time to step up to the main road where core values guide the steps as we:
—show the courage to identify the wrongs that have been done for centuries and work to prevent them in our world
—explore the seeds planted over all that time that now show up as deep-seated wrong thinking passed on from generation to generation
—reach beyond our fear to start living by the simple fact that all human beings should be treated as human beings, none “lower” than the other by nature of ethnicity
—remove the “back road” markers that honor wrong choices
—re-educate ourselves in light of the history of the “back road” journeys throughout history
—commit to living out the “golden rule” in ALL situations and hold each other accountable for staying on the main road
STATUES do send a message about who or what we honor
HONOR does send a message about who we are
BACK ROADS alert us to a need to review our journey since back roads are often poorly lit, winding, uneven paths which can lead to places we never intended to go . . .
We are stronger together if we
STOP . . . LOOK . . . LISTEN . . .
to each other respectfully and treat each other the way we want to be treated
thoughts: June 22, 2020/Jeanne Hicks-Barnett