Commentary: Wherein lies the truth?

Commentary: Wherein lies the truth?
September 02
12:31 2020

By Peggy Jenks

It’s almost 3:00 in the morning and I’ve been asleep for a few hours, but upon waking, my monkey mind whirlwind of thoughts just won’t quit.  

After watching two nights of the RNC, I’d decided I couldn’t watch any more. I’d read various comments on several fact-checking sights as I’d done after the DNC. I’ve heard lots of news commentaries and had a number of discussions with friends and family.

Wherein lies the truth?

I’m not hearing much truth from anyone right now. Fact: African people kidnapped from their fields, villages and homes to be sold into slavery happened. Fact: The ancestors of these people have not been given full and equal rights in housing access or job and educational opportunities, among others, until the present. How do we know?  One way is that Black workers are not paid the same for the exact same job as whites. Where do the majority of Black people live? Check the researched facts.  

Yes, there have been a minority of Black people who have achieved much in all of these areas, but not in comparison to whites.  

Just look at the facts and statistics. They do not lie. Look at how many black people are on company boards, as CEOs, having major roles in movies, published authors, and the list goes on.

Now, now … it is so impressive to see so many anchors of color in the news that are the most intelligent and articulate of any, just to name one profession that is acknowledging obvious capability and talent.

Fact: Blacks are seen in news clips being killed or shot at close range by officers who are expected to protect and keep all of us safe. Why is that? Because of fear? Because of a culture of violence and the more bloodshed seen in films, the more dulled we’ve become to the fact that we are all human beings and do not deserve to be treated that way? Because of racist values being espoused by family, friends, and community, implicit and explicit? Because we tend to live the fantasies we see in films and can’t distinguish from reality?  

No, I’m not meaning to bash the movie industry. It just so happens that the movie industry shows on the screen what is so obviously taking place. Sadly, this glorification of violence has been in our culture for a very long time. I was raised on the cowboy and Indian movies. Built into our DNA and survival of our species is to get what we want at all costs. So we have been steeped in it.  

Unfortunately, human beings are often unable to psychologically know the difference between reality and fantasy and the mind doesn’t know the difference between the two. If violence and killing is what the human species has had to do to survive since the beginning, it is not going to go away when we can find less violent ways to get our needs met.  

Fact: A politician in Washington State asked something like, “I’d like to understand more about what is meant by defunding the police.” The result was not an answer but protesters coming to her home, spraying graffiti, and yelling and screaming, threatening. Why? There may be more to it than I know, but some things seem to have gotten totally out of control. Much of the protesting is necessary to get the attention of those in power. Some necessary discussions and changes are happening in some police departments.  

Fact: Guns don’t fire themselves without people. When a person gets in a situation where they either think their life or their way of life is threatened, a gun fired and killing or rendering the threat powerless is a pretty strong deterrent.  When guns are a means to perpetuate violence against living things, human or animal, for sport or safety, the fine line between reality and fantasy gets blurred. Fear for one’s life, rather real or imagined, is a pretty thin line when one has a gun in one’s hand. Once the gun is fired and a life is taken or changed forever, it can’t be taken back. It’s reality not fantasy. There’s real blood and real death. The consequences are huge and must be taken seriously.

Fact: Black Lives Matter, yes, and all lives matter, but when time and time again Blacks are being murdered by people who the tax payers pay to protect them and keep them safe, something is gravely wrong. Yes, whites and others matter, but to pit Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter against each other or to negate the fact that Blacks are being killed more often should help all of us to see that there is something very wrong here. Why does this happen more often to Black people?  

Look at the facts and statistics. Wherein lies the truth?

I’ve been in turmoil because I’ve recently discovered that several close friends whom I care about and love have a real dislike for presidents and their families. Why? Is it because they are a threat to them for their safety, their job, their education, their sense of not having what they want, whether it be education or job or opportunity? What are they afraid of? Have they been listening to newscasts that paint these people as liars, cheats, phonies? Do they disagree with the policies of the president? Do they not see that everyone in the United States wants the same thing?  A good paying job, a comfortable home, safety, opportunities for their children, good healthcare?

Ah, it seems that the needs are the same, but the way to achieve the goals for success are different. How can there be coming together and compromise? I don’t think there is a chance if one side of the government has vowed that they will not agree, ever, with the president’s policies no matter what. If the decision has been made that whatever that president wants, the other side will be against it, even if there is some real merit. What happens to compromise?

It’s pretty difficult to compromise on some issues. Take abortion. Either you support it or you don’t, for whatever reasons. How about supporting fully financially the children that are born from incest or rape or an unwanted pregnancy? Where is the funding for children whose parents never wanted them? Are there enough people who will adopt children of all races from these unwanted pregnancy situations? Two very fundamental questions: Which is worse, killing an unborn child or killing physically or psychologically a child that is unwanted and not cared for?  Tough. 

But why fight with words or guns or fists and not come to some kind of compromise? Is one person’s or group’s beliefs more important than the other’s?  

Is it more important to the people of the USA to have a government that works for them, all the people or not?  

Fact: Separation of church and state is implicit in the Constitution. With many religions and beliefs by the people of the USA, each and every one must be respected, not one more important than the other.  

Fact: Millions/billions of dollars are being spent in the election. How about money being the god? How about the USA system of each party needing so much money to purchase air time to promote their particular candidate? How much truth lies within the electing of any politician? Do lies matter? Lies seem to become truth if they are spoken often and loud enough … by anyone. Follow the money, they say.

When are all the people, the common people, the disenfranchised people, the poor people, the unseen or unheard people, going to wake up and see that by following the money we all lose the real truth. No matter if it is with healthcare and prescription drugs, our schools, what our jobs pay and are worth, the type of house we live in or feel we deserve, and so many other things. Yes, of course, all of these things cost money, but where is the money actually going? Who is getting more wealthy at the detriment of which sections of society?

Wherein lies the truth? Will truth ever again be valued?  

There are other issues and questions swirling around, but thankfully, my mind has calmed down a little. Maybe I can sleep now.

Peggy Jenks is a retired music teacher who taught for 38 years in India, Luxembourg, and Atlanta in International Schools.  She also taught at Salem College.  Most recently, she has been the volunteer conductor of the Shepherd’s Center Singers.  She lives in Winston-Salem and is a Chronicle subscriber.  

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