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Vail Valley Voices: Striving to become colorblind

Shane Musgrove
Vail Valley Voices
valleyvoices@vaildaily.com

I ride a large green bus every day to school. I wish it were blue, but it’s not. More than often, I wish it went in a different direction than it does. It’s my hope, although it never favors me as that is the direction of the bus on the other side of the street. On my bus, that wretched green bus, I continually make observations of the people around me. I stare at them in a noticeably awkward way. I throw on my iPod and watch.

In accordance with my own vice, I judge. Most are stereotypes and irrational judgments. I see all colors of people. I see women with their faces covered with clothing. I see African Americans with long dreads. I see homeless people leaving their cart behind somewhere on the sidewalk … just to get to some place, but no one knows where and no one seems to care.

At some point on my bus trip, many of these people leave the bus. Then, all that is left are those going to the university composed of some liberal, conservative, Democratic, Republican, Libertarian students, and some with a “who cares, give me a piece of paper with a degree label on it” attitude.

To my own depravity, I judge them all. I judge their character, their past life, their future, and who they are. I decide what their thoughts are and if they have anything noble within them such as the virtues of justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance (otherwise known as the cardinal virtues).

I have the audacity to say I can tell who someone is just by looking at them. Even worse, I have the pride to think I am correct. However, I do not know what they do with their lives or their time, but my assumption is always correct in my own mind. This is my existentialism (the creation of my own truth) coming out at best. The irony is that I would argue against this philosophy (existentialism) any day, hour or night of the week, to my grave. I would die on a burning cross before admitting that it is an accurate philosophy in our world.

But yet, I’m plagued by the battle for truth I wrote about in previous writings. It has become hardened scales that blind my eyes. At times, I wonder why I judge and stereotype others. While pondering the incorrectness of this view, I wonder why there is a continual struggle to rid myself of it. But for my own best interest, I block it out, shove it deep within myself and forget about it. It’s a vice, and my own demons tell me to withdraw from thinking about it. Why would I want to bring it to a reality? But, with deep and sincere remorse, I admit I am not color blind. It’s not the bus that is wretched, it is me.

I see things the way I’d like to view them. My assumption is: we all do.

Previously, I mentioned how we see things through our own looking glass and that we need a reference point. I know my reference point, but yet I am still bent. How we shall appease this will come later. However, without straying too far from the point at hand, I admit I judge politically, religiously, and to an even greater extent, I judge people’s actions without having a clue of what they think, strive for, or for what they desire for every day.

I judge the alcoholic that wants to stop drinking, the addict that wants to stop using, the greedy that wants to give, liars that want to speak truth, doubters who want something real, racists who do not want to hate, bad fathers who want to be better, and mothers who strive to give to their children in ways we cannot imagine, and in the end many of them fail. Yet I say, we fail more because we pass over these people due to our own perceptions, do not extend our hand, and somewhere deep inside, they cry and we continue living.

I work in a medical research lab with a Shiite Muslim. I’d be lying if I said I did not judge him upon first sight. Sept. 11 bells rang out in my head, I saw pictures of Ahmadinejad, I heard the gunshots fired at Fort Hood … 12 killed and 31 wounded. However, we started a dialogue and my stacked deck of cards fell to the ground and my stereotypes were shattered. My shame abounded. I never told him what I originally thought, but I presume he knew. We’ve talked of many things concerning time and life, including: the world, faith, eternity, politics, religion, and deep matters of the soul.

We differ. We differ drastically (Reformation Christianity and Islam), but yet we have compassion and love for one another. I want him to thrive and succeed and he desires the same for me. It is a strange happening to sit across a desk from someone and discuss deep issues while knowing that we disagree with one another at the deepest roots of our own belief system. We disagree to a point that we both know that neither of us will plead hard or long enough to persuade the other to switch belief systems.

Possibly for the first time in my life I saw reality without the blinding presuppositions that infect my mind. I realized people with differences are still people, and we are all still a part of a large group called “humanity.” Yes, it is true, we all belong to a class of people called “humanity” just in case we have forgotten.

But, yet, the gap between us is enormous; however, we persevere for a cause – a cause that might one day change the lives of many. I consider him an honorable man. At the heart, he is compassionate, merciful and has a spirit that resembles greatness. However, we conflict on what we consider most essential: our theology. On the other hand, we agree that we can work together and accomplish something that will help others if we are in fact “colorblind.”

It is obvious how immensely we differ, and this separates us. I’ve often wondered to what degree and found that the anomaly of it is, we both lay awake at night pondering the same thing.

“If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep.

While I lay, I dream we’re better,

Scales were gone and faces lighter.

But when we wake, we hate our brother.

We still move to hurt each other.” – Dan Haseltine

So, whether on my bus, in my classes, on the mountain, or in my mind, I see nothing but colors, but not the colors that were ever intended to be seen. Differences are meant to be acknowledged and logically discussed, but never were hate and stereotypes a part of the bargain.

We, including myself, are not colorblind as “we wake to hate our brothers” who differ from us and “we still move to hurt each other.” We judge and despise many of the same people that want to accomplish the same goals as us because they differ from us by color, religious belief, etc.

Men, women and children die all over the world every day, but yet we fight over minute petty things and wage war against another because we believe differently. This in essence just happens to be our inheritance as men and will always stand in the way of peace in this world. Is there a cure for this disease? Yes, strive to become colorblind. Is it plausible to have differences, work together, and hate hatred rather than hating each other? In other words, can we share a unique unexplainable bond even with differences? Perhaps, I am on the right bus.

Shane Musgrove is a part-time Vail and part-time Denver resident who attends the University of Colorado.


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