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Relationships can jump the track. By the time you wake up to the danger it’s too late. The parties are so alienated from rehashing old arguments they cannot work together to find solutions. The best hope is a new beginning. A clean slate. But, with one new rule: Be aggressive to the issue, sympathetic to the person.

And so it is with race relations. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean you are a bad person. If we stopped the personal attacks from both sides about past misdeeds, we could focus on the future with open minds.

Most of this rhetoric comes from political strategists. The result is candidates giving canned responses to racial questions, and accusations of “racial coding”. Ordinary people don’t talk like that.

People of good will come in all colors. They should be able to speak to each other candidly about race without tripping over linguistic land mines. Racial sensitivity has been so exaggerated by those with an agenda from both sides of the color line that it’s virtually impossible to have a frank discussion. The result is no discussion.

All Americans enjoy the right to free speech. That includes the right to ignore the words of race baiters. I challenge Americans to turn off Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton for one month and instead talk to each other about their true feelings.

If Americans of every color would take this pledge we could stop the grandstanding and pursue in earnest the pillars of our own Pledge of Allegiance–liberty and justice for all.

Naive? Think about it. These words are easy to understand. We may not agree on how to achieve them, but courteous discussion is our best chance. Our parents taught us to be polite. Let’s try it.

To be sure, racial conflict will not be cured in a month or a year. In the end no one will get everything they want. Life is not that way. We can’t appoint a task force to right every wrong. We cannot reform every institution. We will never achieve perfect equality in every human endeavor.

What we can do is speak to each other from the heart. Avoid knee jerk reactions when we disagree. Be kind. We’ve wasted enough time on those who make their living exploiting our differences. We know who they are.

For one month let’s promise each other to pursue our Pledge with candor and tolerance.

Let’s get back on track. It’s time we showed the world what Americans of all colors can accomplish, when we pull together.

Malcolm D. Gibson
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved
Published May 6, 2015 Galveston Daily News

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