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Every so often a couple of member of the Performance I Create team will collaborate to bring you our perspective on a hot topic in the headlines. We call these POVs (Point of View), today Tim Gardner and Heather Kinzie share their thoughts on a historic June of 2015.
June was an interesting month. Like any June before, there were 30 days. But this particular June, in 2015, was filled with US history.
One frequent meme on the internet was the replacement of the confederate flag with a rainbow flag. While this was an interesting idea, the fact is that the two are not related.
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Yes, the Supreme Court, by its narrowest margin, confirmed that the constitution agrees that love is love. Gender does not matter, commitment does. In a ruling that was long overdue, the court supported the marriage rights of same-sex couples. And for this, I am grateful.
But this has little to do with the horrendous acts of a young man who felt he could change the world with his handgun. A young man who none of us knows intimately, but whose motivation has been connected to the image of the confederate flag.
As a northerner who has spent more than half of his life south of the Mason-Dixon (or is it Mason AND Dixon) line, I never got the arguments related to that flag. What I have learned is that it is a powerful symbol to many. It’s foundation is not just in a set of states that wanted to live with different rules. They wanted a different philosophy, a different system of human class as well. The War of Northern Aggression was not about taxation or government, it was about foundational beliefs.
I am pleased to see the actions that many have taken to cease making or selling this flag. But make no mistake, this is not out of a sudden recognition of the ideology it might represent. It is public relations in the modern era – they are cutting their losses.
That is why we can’t ignore that we have foundational problems. When a man born in 1994 acts out on values that weren’t even considered mainstream 130 years ago, you have to wonder what is wrong with our culture. I don’t think the banishment of the flag comes close to changing the way people think and act. Continuing to use it however, especially in government offices, validates individual meanings of the flag. And for this reason alone, it should be removed.
There are some analyses out there that say the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage is an example of high-speed change. Why is our culture not on a track for high-speed change regarding the equality of all persons? Bias is hard to legislate. Sadly, it is largely a learned trait.
As an HR employee of a major corporation, I am aware that there are prejudices still at work, but I also believe that foundations are being blown up and new ones are being built that finally break the old paradigms. Our workplaces are slowly becoming more just than our public places. And that can be the exciting beginning of lasting culture change. Change where you don’t have to legislate the appropriateness of symbols.
After attending the annual SHRM National Conference in Vegas and celebrating the Independence of our country, I find myself pondering with pride the events which occurred the last few days of June. Ironic that all of these wonderful things happened during a time that we honor and commemorate “freedom.”
You should know I sat and wept the morning of June 26th, as I watched the news. I toggled back and forth between channels. I watched one covering the landmark decision of our Supreme Court granting “ freedom” to all citizens of our country to marry when it declared that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. I also watched a channel covering the funeral service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor who, with eight other parishioners from a small church in South Carolina, was gunned down by a young man fueled by hate and prejudice. This man obviously thought he had the “freedom” to act upon his beliefs.
These two events, the SCOTUS decision and the massacre at the church were, of course, not related but my overwhelming emotions were clearly driven by related values: acceptance, kindness and love.
- For far too long our country has held on to the belief that some of us are superior to others.
- For far too long our country has held on to the belief that some of us have rights and privileges that should not be granted to others.
- For far too long our country has held on to the belief that some of us have the right to hurt others, through our actions or our inactions, under the protection of “freedom.”
I believe it’s about time we take a closer look at that word, “freedom.” I wish we would quit hiding behind the “legal” right our Constitution gives us. Who gives a damn if we have the legal right to do something if, in reality, it is morally wrong?
- “Freedom” may give us the legal right to speak our minds, but it shouldn’t mean we have the moral right to chastise or otherwise spew hateful judgment upon others.
- “Freedom” may give us the legal right to take action or inaction, but it shouldn’t mean we have the moral right to hurt, persecute or otherwise damage others.
- “Freedom” for some shouldn’t mean restriction and isolation to others.
The SCOTUS decision recognized these differences. The family members of the victims in South Carolina who voiced their pledge for forgiveness and love recognized these differences. The thousands who stood in solidarity across this country both in celebration and in mourning recognized these differences.
I can only hope that the momentum caused by these events spread like wildfire across this great country so true “freedom” can one day be enjoyed by all of us.