Dying on the battlefield of the culture wars
There is a scene in Braveheart where William Wallace realizes he’s been betrayed by his own countryman. He has bravely led men into battle only to turn and see the cavalry ride off.. leaving them to be slaughtered by the English. He hops on a horse to try to cut down an English knight and after a brief dual he unmasks his opponent to find out it’s actually Robert the Bruce. He’s heartbroken. He stumbles around expressing all of the emotions.. rage and then intense hurt.. and ultimately lies down to die, a broken man. His friends rescue him and bring him to safety.
In some small way I feel like I know what this feels like. This last year I was on a history reading kick and then I watched the brutal murder of Ahmed Aubrey. Then it was Breonna Taylor.. and George Floyd.. and others. I looked into the world of Black pain. I read book after book about it. I was pretty solidly on team BLM. I got involved in voluntary reparations movement. In other words, I charged head long into the battlefield of the culture wars. I was armed and educated.
But then I looked back only to see “my team” leaving the field.. or unwilling to join me on the battlefield. Not only that, but they were shooting arrows at ME. People I reached out to for support shunned me and my mission. I in turned redoubled my efforts. Angry at the lack of support and swollen with righteous indignation I lashed out at anyone who was willing to raise the sword. I savored the fight. It was for nothing.
Honestly, it felt like even God had his turned his back on my mission. It went nowhere.
Like most battles, when the fighting stops.. there are usually just casualties. Lost friendships, hurt feelings, nothing good seemed to come from any of it. Neither side seems to have felt heard or respected.
It still seems bizarre to me. I still struggle to understand the backlash.. the vitriol.. the animosity. Are they not reading the same books? Do they not understand the history?
After some of the books I read I was ready to smash some buildings and burn some cars. Hundreds of years of oppression. Brutal tortures and murders.. segregation.. racism. Oh, but we’ve moved on from that. We’ve had the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Heck, we’ve even had a Black President. We are colorblind now. Talking about it only makes it worse. I’m not racist, you’re racist. End sarcasm.
And now we are fighting over histories. The 1776 version or the 1619 version. Caricatures of reality. Sweeping away nuance to view everything from a certain perspective. Forgiving the sins of those in our tribe while zeroing in on those of “them”. “Those people”. The enemy.
Now, I waffle between just sadness and rage as I decide what to do. Most days I feel truly defeated.. maybe lying down and awaiting death is the answer.
But no, there is always hope.