The Orb…The Ark of the Covenant…The briefcase…The Maltese Falcon…The Death Star Plans…The Infinity stones…The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil…Confederate Statues. What do these things have in common? They are all MacGuffins.
Venturing into the latest racial discussion is a bit like walking across a floor filled with mousetraps….blindfolded. At some point, you’re going to spring a trap, there will be some pain, and you still will be surprised even though you knew something bad was going to happen. That being said, I am intentionally doing so not for the sake of entertainment but because the words need to get from my brain to the digital page.
The latest racial discussion has moved from disagreements on how to treat people over to what should we do with old inanimate objects (Confederate memorials). The arguments are many but it seems to boil down to two major viewpoints: 1) These statues represent a period in history and should be preserved as such, 2) if we remove these historical references then slippery slope says that we will soon be forced to remove anything offensive. Individuals smarter than me have mentioned that historical items belong in a museum where they can be viewed in the proper context. I know, I know….statues are supposed to be outside. True. When we raise up a statue, it is generally done to commemorate or honor an individual. If this is the case, what are we honoring? Oppression? Slavery? Resistance to the idea that all men are created equal and endowed with….well you get the point. The second point is a variant of the slippery slope idea…that many things are offensive to people and we could wind up eliminating just about everything for the sake of offense prevention. The problem with this is that we’re not just talking about any offense. We are addressing an institution that oppressed a specific group of people for years. Yes, we’re talking about slavery. Say whatever you want about the Civil War being one about “states rights” or “Northern Aggression”, but let’s be honest. The economic argument revolves around “free labor”. The social argument revolves around slavery (devaluation and oppression). There are very few fruits that are not part of that original poison tree, so why be upset and disturbed at the removal of items that glorify that time? Ladies and gentleman…welcome to the MacGuffin
As defined previously, a MacGuffin serves to move the plot along. The object or idea itself has little value and should not be the focus. We aren’t interested in statues of people who have long passed. Most people are not trying to reestablish slavery or the mindset that one group is better than another AND should be served by them. Confederate flags/statues etc are nothing more than a device to keep the plot moving and both sides well engaged. Why is that? What is the problem?
One half of the problem is that we still haven’t learned how to empathize with others and their pain, their hurt. When we hear about injustice, inequality, or just plain injury…our minds often go to our own feelings and thoughts. This brings about responses of ” well that’s not what it means to me” or “I don’t think that way”. That’s normal, but we are going to have to go above normal and not stay focused on ourselves. We have to learn to at least try to feel what others feel and at the very least “weep with those who weep”. This is the beginning of solving a very complex problem but we all have the capacity to do it.
The other half of the problem is that we haven’t learned how to love others. Love is an action word. Love promotes or at least foreshadows some type of event or display that illustrates said love for a person, place, or thing. We say we have compassion and sympathy but lack the necessary backup actions that would demonstrate real love. One of the most quoted passages of scripture tells us real love does a lot:
Love gives up a seat.
Love smooths out the rough places.
Love tears up the scorecard
Love listens for the cry for help
Love looks to see justice done
Love does all these things and more… all of the time, never stopping
We need to learn to care ABOUT each other before we can care FOR each other.
Are we going to stop chasing the MacGuffins and deal with the real problem?