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The struggle of life

Life is about struggle. Whether you’re an amoeba or a human, life is a struggle. For some organisms, it’s simply a struggle to stay alive for another second. Just this morning I’m watching two doves outside my office struggle with a crow over territory, and as I write this reinforcements from the crow side have showed up to gang up on the doves. (Perhaps this murder of crows have murder on their minds.) The highlight of an African safari, for many, is witnessing the struggle of predator and prey — the predator struggling to get another meal, the prey struggling not to become that meal … to stay alive.

Human history is all about struggle. Much of that struggle is unjust in many ways — the struggle between a weaker, unprepared victim and a stronger attacker that has prepared for the struggle. In a civilised society we are, as a collective, supposed to protect the weak and discourage the strong from taking advantage of them.

But despite this, humanity is not likely — ever — to become one homogenous mass of people all thinking the same way, reacting the same way, believing the same things, shunning the same negatives and embracing the same positives. And most people, including me, would argue that this is a good thing.

So I get that people rail against other people. It’s part of the struggle. Only today — in 2015 — most of us tend to do so with our pens … or keyboards. Relatively few of us take up arms, either as individuals or groups, or against individuals or groups.

But some do. And we rightly rail against them using our keyboards, and we use the tools of our civilisation to deal with them in one way or another.

However, some people then go past indicting the specific perpetrator of the specific injustice and commit further injustices against people who had nothing to do with the crime. If the criminal was black, they blame all black people. If the criminal was Muslim, they blame all Muslims. If the criminal was white, however, they blame the entire white race, from whoever the very first white person was down to the newest white person born within the last few seconds. Even that seconds-old white baby is tainted by the white man’s Original Sin, and blessed (or scourged) by the “privilege” of his or her white skin, with no hope of ever redeeming him- or herself in the eyes of the people who attack the white race for the sins of their forefathers.

I understand their anger. So much of the aforementioned human history has been a struggle between whites and non-whites. (Of course, there has been struggle between people of all races and within races, but many people tend to focus on that between whites and people of colour.) But if all you’re going to do in your ranting is paint all whites (or any group) with the same brush, you’re no better a bigot than the Dylann Roofs of this world — you’re just a different bigot, perhaps with a different colour skin than Roof’s — and your collective punishment is certainly not contributing to a solution to any problem.

So rail all you want against whites and “white privilege”; you’re part of the daily struggle of life. Just don’t pretend that you’re above it, and better than the rest of us struggling in this cesspool of multi-hued humanity.



Written (despite the date of publication) in late June 2015 after reading Dylann Roof is not an extremist, but really, the thought has been formulating in my mind for the last ten days since Roof’s (alleged) shooting and the reactions to it, especially those that reference Rhodesia.