I know generalizations and stereotypes are at the root of racism and bigotry, but all of these stories have given me a case of the fantods.
They say the good ones are far more abundant than the bad ones, but every week, the news shows them killing someone. They claim to be peaceful but many members of their organization kill people without cause, or, if they do it for cause, it’s for a cause that a lot of us don’t agree with. And then, they fall back on their interpretation of some higher law. When they do kill, it is quick, with little warning other than a few words shouted out. Very few of their members ever speak out against their organization and when there is a killing, most of their community justifies it in the name of some higher authority. Sometimes, it seems like they believe we are committing sins just by the nature of our existence.
So, when I see them walking down the street, or in the airport, or huddled in large groups, I feel fear. I know that is terrible, but I can’t help it. How am I supposed to figure out which ones will hurt me and which ones won’t? Their outfits don’t tell me which ones are good and which ones are bad. Their skin color does not reveal what is in their minds. At any moment, they may transition from a peaceful person to a killer, and I have no idea what will trigger that transition. I don’t want to be scared but if I am honest, there is unease whenever one of them is near. I become more vigilant. I worry about looking them in the eye. I wonder if they are going to use a weapon against me.
Sadly, most of them are good. They help our communities and offer people safe haven when times get tough. They respect the law and they offer a place to turn for counsel. It is the bad ones, though, who make the news. It is the bad ones who kill recklessly and then blame the victim for starting it all in the first place. It is the bad ones who cause me to live in fear, and to make me view all of them as potentially dangerous, and to make everyone label me as a generalizer, or a stereotyper, or worse. But, I don’t know how to get over it. It’s just the way I feel.
So, the next time I see a policeman coming down the street, I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt.