How long can a family, community, city or state live in a bubble of hatred, bigotry and ignorance before someone breaks down the wall? As long as the walls are standing, those inside cannot see themselves as they truly are. A plethora of knowledge is a wall breaker.
When the walls are broken, will we be able to see who we are? Are we listening to ourselves speak in support of untruth? When the walls are torn down, will we then be able to hear the craziness coming out of our mouths and the mouths of those we have chosen to be a part of our circle?
Some years ago, technology became the center of how we communicated, and through technology’s raw truths much was revealed about ourselves. The whole world is now able to see who we are, and who we are not. Most of the revelations were so embarrassing that many of us began saying to the world, “This is not who we are.” I was definitely one of those individuals who said it.
Just a few days ago, I was staying out of the cold weather watching some old movies. Many of the movies caught my attention because years ago the books were on the reading list for our high school students. All of them, then and still, have something to take away, chew on, and digest. Watching them was like rereading passages from the Bible. Even though the words do not change on the pages, second reading gives a new insight, or something deeper and more profound each time.
“Inherit the Wind” was one such book and can be compared to what is happening in our communities across the country today. An idea brought into a small town caused a big divide, and it pulled down the walls of ignorance, bigotry, and hatred.
In the book, a scientific fact surfaced and a new teacher who wanted his children to be thinkers took the chance of tearing down the wall inside the minds of his students. The mind is where those walls of hatred and bigotry begin anyway. The teacher wants his children to come out of the dark ages, open their minds and be willing to use the one gift that the Creator had given to man but none of the other animals.
The community was of the Bible Belt mentality and went about singing songs like “Faith of Our Fathers,” “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” and “We will Hang Brady Drummond on the Sour Apple Tree.” When the community along with the leaders felt threatened, they marched through city streets and sang those songs with redeeming grace, as they headed to the picnic area to sit with picnic baskets and watch a hanging.
They were a united community indeed, held together by bigotry, ignorance, and hate. Out of all the components that held them together, ignorance was the most compelling.
Most of the residents did not realize that they were operating out of sheer ignorance. The citizens were loud and outspoken about it, but no one in the tribe could hear the ignorance because they had grown numb and deaf to it. The harmony was like music to their ears and all they wanted to say was Amen. It was repeated so many times in the courtroom that the defense attorney made a motion to the judge requesting all of the Amens be included in the record.
On the morning when the young teacher was to be fired and jailed for continuing to teach Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to his class, all important and unimportant persons were present in the courthouse. The mayor, the city council members, the banker, and other officials came to uphold the decision that had already been made the night before in front of a burning cross.
Keeping power was the motivating factor feeding the unhealthy level of ignorance in the small town. The mayor and the judge had power and control over their minds, and the two of them realized (as many have today in our politics) that it is easier to govern the ignorant, the bigots, and the haters.
Why do you think the law in this country was to not allow people of color to learn to read and write? They are easier to control. They will not read for themselves. It is easier to be told. Thinking causes one to use more brain matter. Why not connect with another bigot and let him or her speak your ignorance for you? Is that not what we are doing today in our politics? Many came to court carrying their Bibles and some of the ladies even had their knitting supplies.
“Inherit the Wind” is a narrative of a nation and its people as they struggle to come to grips with the forces of change. It is a story of what is happening to us in this country even today.