Sunday’s paper had three diverse opinions on confederate statues in Texas, ranging from trash on the lawn to meaningful historical statements. That such widely different views can be held by well, respected citizens of the same town may seem a window on our differences, but more importantly, it is also reveals one of the most powerful elements of our common humanity, that we all resist control of our lives by others.
To have our will bent to the use of others by violence or the threat of it is an anathema to every human being. Originally the statue at the courthouse was erected out of Texans’ anger against Reconstruction. Current opinions regard the statue as a symbol of the struggle against racism and class distinctions engendered by slavery, or as the struggle of the individual against the oppressive power of the state.
Although the goals differ, the essential justification for each struggle is the same, namely to make others do what we think is right. The irony of this is we feel justified to do to others what we do not want to have done to ourselves. We have instruction to do just the opposite, to walk a mile in other’s shoes and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If we believed in this, we might see that forcing our opinions on others is the problem, not having different opinions in the first place. Leaving or removing the statues will not change our opinions or our intent to force them on others. Instead of wasting effort on old monuments to old struggles, we need to talk about what we can build now that brings us together and can be a monument to a more just and equal society.