Neil Sandhu is a biomedical engineering junior. Letters to the editor do not reflect the opinions or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Friends, Mustangs, countrymen, lend me your ears. Let us, for only a minute, see how far we’ve come. Nearly a century ago, our youth, our men, our boys were landing on the beaches of Normandy, not on the steps of Kennedy Library. They were climbing over trenches, not over their own egos. They were too busy checking their fallen comrades for spare ammunition, to stop and check their privilege. So let’s see how far we’ve come; but first, we have to understand where we have come from.
We come from imperfect roots, and selfish intentions. We live on a country built on the backs of slaves. We moved heaven and earth to have railcars built by the seemingly disposable lives of Chinese immigrants. We split the atom with the help of defected scientists who wrote their theses on the impurity of Jewish blood. We are a jigsaw puzzle of oppression and cohesion that has come together in the form of the greatest country on earth.
I am an Arab-American. I wear a Bernie 2016 shirt to the gym, I drive a German car and I live in a white town. I have stood on the tattered and imperfect shoulders of those who came before me only to see how pitiful we have become. Make no mistake; we are fighting the same war today that our forefathers were on the beaches of Normandy. This is a war on hate. Hate is not to be confused with persecution or oppression; it is not to be misidentified as opinion or fact. Hate itself isn’t immoral, or wrong, it is simply human nature.
In the times when hate manifests itself in the forms of crimes against humanity, our country has been the first to answer the call of the persecuted, the oppressed and the ones in need. Our ancestors have died at the hands of those whose hate manifests itself in the form of genocide and occupation. We have lead this assault not because we are so pure and perfect that we don’t share the capacity to hate like Pol Pot and Hitler did, but because we, as a people, understand the difference between emotion and action. We are humans; we cannot physically control what we hate. However, we can control into whom hate turns us.
Today, we find ourselves at the crossroads at which our forefathers died. We have two choices: we can move individually in the direction of our demands, or we can move collectively in the direction of universal civility. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows; even Rocky, after countless punches and even more bad sequels, knew that. Hate will, unfortunately, always have a place in our society, and our hearts. Our country’s past is riddled with hate manifesting itself in the form of oppression and maltreatment. Our focus should be and needs to be in the pursuit of quelling these actions. Attempting to eradicate hate is a futile pursuit. Our soldiers did not die in the hunt for peace. They died in a quest for civility.
Every day, we must move in the direction of civility. We must smother the fires of violence and institutional racism. We have to, collectively, recognize that the oppression and marginalization for any group, minority or majority, has no place in the 21st century. But we cannot, and should not, try to eradicate hate. It is our right to hate, our right to seethe, our right to despise on prejudicial grounds. It is our right to be bigoted and biased. Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a pure one, both have one thing in common; they both begin where reason ends. There is no reasoning with hate or bigotry. They are as movable as the ocean. They may subside at times, and rise at others, but they do so at their own will. There is no pushing on the abyss. There is no reasoning with the tide.
I have privilege. I have the privilege of waking up every day in the beautiful city of San Luis Obispo. I have the privilege of a world-class education and modern campus. I have the privilege of having ungodly technological advancements at my fingertips, most of which came at the cost of the dignity of millions of people. However, I will never have the privilege of living in a world without hate. And that’s fine, because I have the privilege of living in the greatest country on earth. It’s not a perfect country, and it isn’t always a peaceful one, and it will never be one without hate. And that’s okay.
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