Summary:

I doubt I will ever fully eradicate my racism. Unfortunately, I suspect some vestige of it will always be with me. But what I can do, and what I do do, is expose myself to experiences that lessen my racism, those being travel, kind and honest conversation, and breaking bread with “the others” whenever I can. These experiences, like wind and rain, smooth rock and, over time, lay low even the highest mountains.

Below is an essay that was originally a chapter in the working manuscript of my third book Blue Skyways. Although I chose not to include this essay in the final manuscript, I still like it and believe it has value, so I am posting it here for you. I hope it stimulates you somehow!

No job. No wife. No house. A little money...and 12 months of free airfare.

What would you do?

 That's the question I asked myself at the beginning of 2019, leading me on the adventure of a lifetime, from the coast of Portugal, to the sands of Morocco, to the islands of Panama, with many places beyond and between.

Blue Skyways tells the astounding stories of the people I met on that journey, how I was affected, and about the perspective of a man who has been around the sun 63 times and across the world a few. As you will learn, death became my travel companion, partly at my invitation.

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I Am a Racist

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Mark Twain

I often hear nowadays, people being accused.

“He’s a racist.”

“She’s a racist.”

“Trump’s a racist.”

“So and so’s a racist.”

What I have yet to hear is, “I am a racist.”

So let me be the first.

I am a racist.

Yes.

I see the ugly thing, creeping around my soul like a roach in the kitchen. I squash it, but some time later, there it is again.

I know there is a nest somewhere, eggs hatching, a source deep within me, hidden away where it’s easy to deny. There is the library of my false beliefs, the lies I tell myself over and over, so often they become grooves cut into my gray matter, like fissures in rock where the water runs down, cutting deeper and deeper, until fissures become swales and swales become canyons.

When did the first racist raindrop fall? I don’t know. As a child, for sure. How many drops of dirty rainwater does it take to pollute the vessel of pure water of which we are born? When, exactly, does a person become a racist, and who gets to decide?

I don’t know, but then, neither does anyone else.

I don’t believe in permanence. That’s one thing the Buddhists have taught me.

Everything changes.

We can become aware of that library of false beliefs, that nest of nasties that colors our perception of things, often for the worse. Awareness alone brings change. We can cut new grooves. My challenge as a human being is not to deny that I am a racist, for that would be as foolish as denying I have cancer when I really do. My challenge is, rather, to stop the cancer from metastasizing and poisoning the whole man.

I doubt I will ever fully eradicate my racism. Unfortunately, I suspect some vestige of it will always be with me. But what I can do, and what I do do, is expose myself to experiences that lessen my racism, those being travel, kind and honest conversation, and breaking bread with “the others” whenever I can. These experiences, like wind and rain, smooth rock and, over time, lay low even the highest mountains.

So when I hear the angry crowd shouting, “He’s a racist,” I want to ask:

“Who among you is not a racist? Stand up then and take a bow…for you are surely a god.”

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