I was just watching a vlog online when I overheard a conversation that brought these words to my heart: Peace! Goodwill to all men!
This vlogger was commenting on the events that occurred in Ferguson and just stated the obvious and many injustices that is endured by people of colour all the time; not just in the United States, but all over the world. Perhaps it is more pronounced in areas where the segment of the population with the most power and influence happens to trend towards Caucasian.
The conversation I overheard is one that unfortunately I have heard several times before: one individual taking advantage of the naiveté of another who has a particular weakness when it comes to games of chance and the ‘associated winnings’. It broke my heart a bit to listen to it because I often feel powerless to intervene and point out how wrong it is. Instead, I reacted as we sometimes do when we see wrong around us: I shook my head in disbelief, and turned a blind eye. Unfortunately.
The conversations online regarding the vlog was a combination of facts heavily overlaid with emotions and attitudes: ineptitude, ignorance, abject terror, sadness, anger and psychological blindness. All sides of the divide presented their cases with such pre-determined conclusiveness that no one could see the facts that even they postulated. They were lost to the ‘truth’ of each argument, unable to see because they each choose to see it only on their terms.
I am a woman of colour. I live in the Caribbean and therefore the injustices here tend to be those meted out to persons who are less fortunate, less able to defend themselves because of stratification influenced by colour, money and by extension, power. Our ‘colour’ issues though similar, are often due to the residual effects of a developing nation still firmly embedded in the throes of a post-colonial slavery society.
The phrase, in this very jolly season, resonated with me. Peace! Goodwill to all men! Peace indicates social and psychological stability. A situation where there is some sort of inward Utopia. Is that even possible in an existence where no matter how you try, humans are inherently selfish and tends towards a inner blindness when things are not in our favour or beneficial to us? Its almost always, these days, “What is in it for me?” “How will it benefit me?”. Perhaps I too am guilty of being naïve in expecting that we all should think collectively with an understanding that we are an extension of each other in this universe. That when we think beyond ourselves, that we end up being the beneficiaries of the goodness, the fairness and justice that we extend towards others.
This is a situation of reciprocity as far as I see it.
Perhaps if we did practice and think “Goodwill to all men” in our dealings with each other, maybe then we could experience the peace that so many of us seek. Perhaps the peace that we experience inside, in our private moments and in the social experiences that we have would not be so fleeting if our true intentions towards each other was pure.
For me, I have an understanding of humans: we are full of faults, but we are inherently lovable. There is a goodness and a purity in us that if circumstances are right, it gets put on display all the time. If we each try to treat each other well, to have an expectation of goodness and being forgiving of the weaknesses in each other, perhaps we can have that peace. Perhaps if, in the moments when we fail to live up to the greatness that is in all of us, we get up brush off our bottoms and get that much needed hand up so we can start again, perhaps that peace will come.