Philosophically, I’m a misanthrope. It’s not so much that I hate people, I just don’t get them. They don’t know how to drive, question their beliefs or learn enough about anything to cast an intelligent ballot (obviously, I’m referring to other people). I believe in mankind’s inherent selfishness and inability to grow. Social scientists study group behavior and its impact on the individual, but I would argue that the mob perfectly exemplifies humanity. It’s when you get them alone that people morph into socially acceptable citizens, disguising their true nature. Anyway, that’s what I believe.
I am, however an equal opportunity misanthrope. I scorn and mistrust all races, religions and nationalities without prejudice. It is my lack of prejudice, I feel that separates me from the whining masses. My mother, too felt she was without prejudice, though she hated gays and condemned interracial marriage on the grounds that the children would suffer at the hands of those who really were prejudiced. So much for self-assessment. The proof, as they say must be in the pudding.
It happened during my daughter’s second year at the University of Wisconsin (she’s a doctor now and I say that equally as a time reference and just pure bragging). Throughout her first semester she complained about her Biology lab partner and how she (the lab partner) got special treatment because she was on the track team and how she (my daughter) did most of the lab work herself. My daughter thought it was most unfair and spent the entire semester in resentful protest. It wasn’t until the following semester, though that I met the oft-maligned track star.
A chance encounter on State Street introduced me to the young athlete. She was nice for a slacker and seemed to like my daughter, who also put on her friendly face. After a minute or two the track star was off to practice (how often did she use that one?) and we resumed our discussion about where to have lunch. Suddenly it dawned on me that track lady was Black. African-American, if you insist, although something about that term seems guiltily disingenuous to me. The revelation wasn’t the young lady’s race, but that my daughter, in all her acrimony had never mentioned it. She didn’t see race as an issue or as a contributory factor. In fact, I realized, she didn’t see it at all. Color me verklempt.
As I pondered this turn of events, I realized that my son, too never refers to anyone by race or uses derogatory terms or epithets. Somehow, in a world filled with suspicion, hatred and accusation, I had managed to raise two color-blind children. If I can only get them to thoroughly mistrust all humans, my work here will be done.
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