difference is only skin deep

i have been mulling over the state of affairs of the globe, our country america, and of course, my hometown over the last few days. the name of this blog is the peace tree and it is very difficult for me to channel any peace to write about here. but that doesn't mean that i am not currently peaceful. i have thought about how fragile life is and about how desperately human beings fight to stay alive in all sorts of circumstances- and how easily life is snuffed out at the hands of others.

and how little peace on earth there actually is.

and i don't have any glib, ready answers other than the most obvious- simply stop. stop killing each other and stop lying to each other and stop taking what isn't yours. i find it simply ironic that in binghamton folks are shaken to the core about the slayings and a week ago, many here in this somewhat conservative part of new york state were complaining about immigration and the influx of 'foreigners.' i am white in a largely blue collar area and i have seen my fair share of bigotry, racism, misogyny and just plain ignorance. not to sound holier than thou, but i cringe when some folks in alleged professional jobs open their mouths because what comes out is simple arrogance. i certainly don't condone the killing of innocent folks- and by all accounts the gunman, mr. wong, killed innocent folks. however, i have heard from people's mouths the slighting and the irritation and the annoyance at folks who have accented or broken english- as if spending a half a lifetime somewhere else should slip away once you reach american soil.

the funny thing is- here in binghamton and the rest of the triple cities- the area was built up on the backs of people who didn't speak a word of english. the only english many of these folks knew- "which way ej?" meaning- point the way to the endicott-johnson shoe factory. eastern europeans mainly but plenty of italians and irish settled here. in the 1980's an influx of vietnames refugees started settling here and the last wave in the 1990's have been ukrainians. so, it baffles me how people like the ones in my old neighborhood, some of whose parents came here from 'the old country,' have the nerve to pick on, complain about, be mean about folks whose english isn't fluent. and i chuckle too because many folks here who do speak english- don't use it correctly- as if perhaps they skipped the day in school when the teacher covered double negatives and the like. just sayin'...

so, i will never condone violence but i understand its roots. for mr. wong to feel so marginalized by americans-- as an american citizen-- that he took up arms and killed innocent folks who had done nothing to him- it is only surprising to me that it took him that long. when you have the police chief of binghamton calling him names like 'coward' and the like in a news briefing- well, to me that's ignorant. it took enormous courage to come here from his birthplace to start life over as an adult. it took enormous courage to endure humiliation and embarrassment on both coasts in his place of employment and in every day life. it took enormous courage to make the final decision to end his own life. where he fell short, was when he decided to take out the wrong people. in my opinion, it's the people like mr. zikuski who are part of the problem.

'Police chief: Suspect a 'coward' During a press conference, Zikuski dismissively labeled Wong "a coward" who wore body armor during his shooting spree but killed himself when he heard sirens wailing outside.'

the cowboy mentality- white versus black, right versus wrong- well, that hasn't served us very well. our way of dealing with differences is to fear them- well, as long as we live that way- columbine, virginia tech, binghamton, pittsburgh, etc., will continue to happen. what american fail to understand- people are people no matter their race, color or gender. the white is right mentality only serves to alienate people and make us targets. it's that simple. all human beings on this planet are the same on the inside- we laugh, love, hate, cry, become angry, get lonely- and not speaking the same language on the outside is the only thing that sets us apart. until folks realize that- there can be no peace.


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