Ashes

I was born and raised with hate. There is a word in Southern Africa which is similar in meaning and purpose to the infamous N-word in the United States. It’s word which I thought about using in the post, but I don’t feel like I have the right. It’s a word which was one of the first my young mind heard and repeated. Sitting on my mother’s lap in the front seat of the family car, and pointing to my black brothers outside the window, using that wretched word.

I’m descended from British Colonial stock. My ancestors were involved in colonizing several countries in Southern Africa and India. I feel guilty, because if there be a god, he knows that that those who perpetrated the acts of colonialism feel no remorse. As a child and a young man, I knew something was wrong. I would question the ethics of denying people the right to vote, purely upon race. If the government was good, surely my black brothers and sisters would see and appreciate that, and vote for what was right. The reaction was never good. Family members called me a *****lover. I felt pride and shame, and my parents didn’t really seem to care.

I’d like to think that I was better than the environment I grew up in, but in many ways I was simply a product of it. I was a Mormon, and a strong and devout Mormon at that. I was a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ… I had the truth! And yet part of that “truth” included the lies that my black brothers were a product of choices in a former life. Part of that truth was that my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters were choosing to sin. I shared those beliefs. I believed those beliefs. And now I regret those beliefs.

Nothing comes close to the cognitive dissonance I experienced when as a young Mormon missionary, I encountered a young black man who questioned my belief in God, and who held a PhD in philosophy. It didn’t compute.

I used to this that it was good to associate with those who had differing opinions. That those different thoughts and beliefs were important in helping me learn and grow. But I’ve learned there is a difference between different beliefs and ideas and pure hate.

I grew up around hate. I belonged to a religion of hate. And hate is different from simply having different beliefs and philosophies.

I’ve been trying to cut the hate out of my life recently. There is no benefit which I can see to associating with those who hate another because of their race, religion, sexual identity or anything else which is used to label and subjugate.

It’s time to burn my history and begin anew. Like the Phoenix, dying and then rising from the ashes, I feel duty bound to put off the old, and make a concerted effort to right the wrongs of my ancestors.

A good friend said that perhaps the best I could do is to make what small changes I could to improve the world for the next generation. And perhaps he’s right. But what if I could do more. What if I have been given an opportunity to give back more, and right the wrongs perpetrated by my forefathers.

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