Winchester Star Op-Ed
A bumper sticker seen locally reads: Make America Gracious Again.
“Gracious” derives from the word “ Grace”, and the dictionary defines it as: “ Having or showing kindness, courtesy, charm; Merciful, compassionate; Indulgent or polite to those held to be inferior.”
When we have contact with someone who is truly gracious, we experience a lift to our spirits, and we feel more positive about ourselves and about the rest of humanity following that experience. When most of the people one encounters show the values contained in the definition, the results are individual feelings of comfort and a general feeling of safety within the society as a whole.
At our best, Americans have been known for their graciousness– and admired by citizens of other countries for it. That has been one thing “ Great” about America.
Regrettably, we now see far too many instances of a lack of graciousness, and the result is that more and more people feel less comfortable and less safe within our society. Instead of courtesy and indulgence, we have citizens who are disdainful — even hateful — toward people who differ from them in political views, religion, or skin color. Recently, friends were challenged by a stranger in an area Sheetz because they were wearing masks while most everyone else there was not. The instances of nasty comments or “ the finger” in reaction to disliked bumper stickers is far too common.
But these types of unpleasantness are nothing compared to what people of color have had to endure in this country almost since
first settlement. We had the civil rights movement, which led to changes in laws, in the 1960s and 1970s. We elected an African-American president in 2008! We’re supposed to be past the worst aspects of racism and discrimination.
But we learn that citizens of Chinese descent have been scorned because the COVID-19 originated in China. We have a government refusal to allow immigrants from certain countries. We have families seeking a better life, coming to a country which was built by immigrants. But when they arrive, they are not treated with mercy and compassion, and many of them have their children taken away and put into cages.
In disbelief, we hear about Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and others being murdered while in their places of worship! This is not America.
And the worst, we continue to see, is having the great misfortune of being born black or brown in a racist society. If you feel like disagreeing, don’t be obtuse. Get the facts. Try to understand what it can feel like to go about your life in these United States, knowing that you could be harassed, threatened, or even killed because of one thing that identifies you as “different”: the color of your skin. You must be VERY careful if you decide to run- while- black, walk-through-a-different-neighborhood- while- black, birdwatch- in-the-park-while-black.
And by all means, do NOT drive your car and get stopped by police while black.
Let’s Make America Gracious Again. November is coming.
Kevin Kennedy is a resident of Frederick County.