Question your beliefs, strive for goodness

Colin Roberts, Copy Editor

When I was thinking on what to write for my last column of the semester, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to tackle. There’s plenty of challenging issues facing our nation, but it’s hard to cut through the noise of a house divided.

So I wanted to write on beliefs. I’ve been around, and I like to think I’m slowly developing into a person I can be proud of. Oh, sure there were some hiccups along the way. Some very, very serious hiccups.

But part of the problem was the different answers to everyday problems. It plagued me, the idea of gray areas and “what-about-isms.” The inability to find a moral absolute disrupted everything from school, to work, to my faith. I was around nineteen, so you can imagine how that went.

Eventually I was taught by a very important person to trust my gut. If something didn’t feel right, there was probably a reason for it. Critical analysis came after.

This served me well enough. It didn’t feel right that the United States of America, the nation I had grown up hearing was the mightiest, most Godly nation on earth, wouldn’t let in people looking for a better life. It didn’t feel right that black people kept sharing their unnerving and saddening experiences with law enforcement, and white people kept finding reasons not to listen. The things I was hearing and seeing during the 2016 presidential election didn’t feel right. The 2007 financial crash didn’t feel right. The war on terrorism, the cultural battle over gay rights, the slow dissolvement of privacy, all of this left me feeling uneasy and angry.

All these experiences, and later subsequent research, found me proudly adopting the title of “liberal” in response to these man-made injustices. I knew who the enemy was now. Corporate America had betrayed us. Racism and apathy among the dominate whites was the reason immigrant families were being torn apart by ICE. The unassailable and widely supported cultural worship of police was the reason that black Americans kept leaving traffic stops in body bags. Rural whites bought with empty, vulgar words were the reason Trump’s brand of “me first” was running rampant across the country.

Conservatives. Whites. “Christians.” These were the groups that were determined to raze and salt the earth before ever letting go of their power.

But was I wrong? Biased? Blowing it out of proportion? There was that doubt, as if I was nineteen again.

I knew I was right on immigration and police brutality against POC. Jesus was pretty clear on that one, and I could safely guarantee none of the MAGA crowd were going to get to heaven and be congratulated for securing the border against men, women and children seeking hope. And if they spouted Fox News sound bites about Mexican killers and rapists flooding over, God would likely remind them to “test all things, and hold fast to that which is good.”

Or at least, I hope he would. Again, I’m always questioning if my beliefs are right, or if I’m falling into a mold. And if they are right, am I going about them the correct way? I’ve taken white Americans, especially conservatives, to task many times in these columns. I’ve often wondered if I should be so confrontational. But nobody knows this group better than me, having spent my entire life with them and studied history. It’s exhausting teaching empathy, and if you find yourself negotiating the terms of it with white people, you’ve already lost.

But strong belief in what is right and wrong can lead to harsh words, and that brings together no one. So then the question becomes, what am I trying to do with my beliefs? Do I want this nation to come together? Is it worth compromising if things like DACA are destroyed? What good is unity, if the people who need help still aren’t being helped?

So then am I at war? Are the conservatives, the MAGA, the talibangelicals, and their worse counterparts the enemy? This doesn’t seem right, as I’ve grown up with these people. The MAGA crowd is full of wonderful, if not misguided men and women.

But is it really misguided if their actions and beliefs perpetuate systems that oppress and kill people? How do you teach empathy and create a country everyone can enjoy?

At the end of the day, all I can do is what I can do. I style myself a writer, so I write about these things. Every day I make sure to check both conservative and liberal news sites, and especially the comment sections, to get a sense of how connected America thinks. If I believe something, I try and hear the other side. And I’d ask that you do the same.

Colin Roberts can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].