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Think Of Them As Unique

Light, from 93 million miles away, warms my face past trees and through glass. Three blades of grass grow from a tiny crack in the stone that holds back my garden. I cut, pull, and even spray, but they return.

Life: persistent and miraculous and, yes, stubborn.

Lately, racism and sexism pop up like stubborn grass. Even if we try to shade ourselves, memes, scandals, studies, and protests permeate like light from our closest star.

How do I reconcile what I know to be a much more tolerant and accepting world than the one I grew up in alongside myriad reports of racially motivated violence, white-power rallies, and reports of sexual assaults?

Social and mass media – led by reactionary, immature, binary thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum – declare we are divided.

I say we have returned to the reductive mode of identity politics, shaming, and victimhood that I thought had been proven problematic so many years ago.

Once again, many feel comfortable in over-generalizing statements that begin with: “Men behave like…” “Women should vote like…” “The gay community should support…” “The black community believes…” “Christians are…”

I say stop. Identity is plural and individual. Descriptors should never be prescriptive. One should not have to pass a litmus test to belong.

We are faced with a resurgence of violence, intolerance, and paranoia. Separating people into groups belies the interrelated, complicated and often contradictory nature of existence.

Let us instead complicate identity, reject generalizations, and encourage individuals to speak for themselves.

I’m Michael Perry, and that is my perspective.

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