“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy
We are all Homo sapiens no matter the color of our skin, our hair, our eyes. Reverend King knew this even before we could prove it with genetics. He died by living the very words he spoke, and today we celebrate his legacy.
It is a fantastic time to be alive in all of our collective existence, Homo sapiens at the top of its game in the 21st century. It is proven we are all genetically similar, yet we still cling to pre-determining a person’s worth or ability or character with something so trivial as how DNA sequences pigmentation. Now free to emigrate to all corners of the world and mix into cultures unlike our own, our skin color is less black or white and becoming more shades of browns and creams.
We are each the same, you and me, differences defined only by our culture, the mode of our upbringing. Unlike our foot-migrating forebears of centuries passed, we are no longer bound by the region or latitude into which we are born, genetically determining our skin tone to absorb or reflect heat as necessary. Today, it matters little the “color” of our epidermis, hair follicles, irises. The importance of these passed-down traits have simply become non-relevant in our easily-mixed civilized world.
Homo sapiens is another animal species; we are more alike our non-human neighbors than we are prepared to acknowledge. We survive each day however we can. We love and protect our families. We dote on our young, look for shelter, and actively avoid pain and harm or death. But Homo sapiens has built a distinct advantage for itself in the last century, manipulating the environment with a temporary resource to better ourselves without considering the consequences. Slavery and torture– oppression at its worst — does still exist today. Trillions of beings (animals, humans and non-humans alike) are treated like property, exploited, basic freedoms of movement and comfort removed. Some are raped and beaten, their offspring stolen from them. Most are destroyed for no good reason at all. We don’t think about them much because we don’t see them. I assure you they are there; we cause their very existence — will them to be — in our insatiable desire for convenience, pleasure, entertainment every single day.
While we continue to make inroads and reparations with petty differences in skin color, gender preference, and religious affiliation within our own species, there are others on this planet who care little of it all. They are merely doing their best to survive no thanks to us. Perhaps if we shift our baseline of compassion outward, begin to think of this world as more than what serves only us, our actions might become more consistent with our words, and our home would — finally — become a more equitable place for all.
I wonder what Reverend King would have to say about it all today.