In the sixties, my basic values were formed. I lived in Baltimore and participated in the first desegregation bussing program. I was bussed to a school in a "colored" neighborhood. On my first day at the new school - I was made to hold the hand of a local girl and the two us us led a staged group walk to the playground for newspaper photo ops. I was in 2nd grade, a tow-headed kid who was embarrassed, not by the integration, but because I had to hold the hand of a girl.
At home, my Republican parents expressed ideals about respect and inclusion, despite their parent's backgrounds and disdain regarding "coloreds." This even included a framed notice of sale for "Two Good Slaves" from an ancestral auction in the 1800's that hung on the kitchen wall of my paternal grandparents. I recall the word "nigger" being used by my father's father and my mother's mother. I do not recall my parents ever using the word, nor disparaging anyone of another ethnicity. But I could see fear on my mother's face as I left to go to school "across town." She could feel fear and a sense of "wrongness", but acted on her ideals.
I have tremendous respect for my parents' ability to intellectually embrace the greater concept of "us", and choose to pursue a self-less view, despite their fears and pre-dispositions due to their parents' coaching and many friends' statements. At that time, "whites" lived in separate neighborhoods and there were mostly two parallel societies with one believing themselves to be "superior" to the other.
What I now recognize is that my parents set an example of acting on their ideals, despite the temptation to be self protective and to act selfishly to protect their own position and preserve their sense of "superiority" or otherwise exclusive and controlling status. They recognized we are together in our community, nation, and planet. This was when my values were being formed... ages 4-8.. a time when the fundamentals with which a person views their world are imprinted.
The sense of pursuing ideals as a virtue and the only truly worthy pursuit- go beyond the self and enter the realm of selfless action. In practice, I have found I revert to self when I look at my actions: taking care of me and my family first, then a small part for others. I still struggle with this and have not sacrificed self to the same degree that I satisfy self. But I have made choices: the type of business I am willing to support, the charities I donate to, and the political stance I express and actively support.
Around 1980, our political leadership began expousing the merit of "I, me", first. Much of the media touted the supposed ideal that accumulated riches was our right and we shifted to a "have it now" society. Borrow today, scramble over others to get what's yours and pay for it later. "Greed is Good" marked the front cover of Time magazine and our leadership openly encouraged it.
Here we are 30 years later. For me, the consequences look like shite. Our values are confused, our national identity is that the US is only a segment of the global market and our national ethic to serve on another, muted. To accomodate our selfishness, we have narrowed our view, our inclusion, to us/me versus them(others). We are doing this to one another.
Ideals and ethics are interwoven. Manifesting them comes in the form of acts. As a crude example for let's say, Christians, ask yourself, "What would Jesus do in this situation?" Then do whatever the answer is. For the agnostic narcissists, ask "How would this look on the front page of the newpaper?" Then act in a manner fits. For those who feel genuine love for another, ask yourself " Would I do this to my Grandmother?"
On the playing field of MTB racing, we compete in a safe and mostly inconsequential arena. In life, I invite you to follow the Golden Rule. If you have forgotten "The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. It is also called the ethic of reciprocity. It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, though it has its critics. A key element of the golden rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with consideration."
That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.
2017 Vermont 50
7 months ago