How can we encourage life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” Soren Kierkegaard.

As you watch events unfold around the world, it is easy believe reports that support what we already believe to be true. That process is called confirmation bias. The difficult part is to look for evidence that what we believe is false. That is one way to overcome your neural programming.

I was camping during the events at Charlottesville, VA. When I looked at news feeds it was difficult to determine what had happened and what was true. I posted on Facebook: Opinions and beliefs travel with the speed of sound, but Truth waits patiently to be found.

I am hearing some who are recommending the death penalty for the driver of a car that killed a woman. He has not been tried yet. Others are saying that there is evidence that he was startled by people beating on his car. I hope he can get a fair trial and that justice prevails.

The take-home message here is not to be fooled into confirming your ideas. Look for the facts. Recognize that people may be trying to alter evidence to sway your opinion. Focus on the facts. Focus on finding truth.

Hate groups have always existed. How do we handle them? Have the last eight years under the Obama administration helped race relations? Where is the evidence?

How should teachers in the south teach history without also teaching bigotry? How do we encourage youth? How do we treat all fairly?

What is the message that is sent to a young child when told that he or she cannot perform a certain task because of his or her race? Is that child set up for success or failure?

Imagine a young teacher wanting to teach the importance of the cotton gin. She buys balls of cotton to demonstrate how difficult it would be to separate the seeds from the cotton. She “randomly” chooses a black student to try the task. The parents complain and the teacher is reprimanded. (True story.)

The teacher claims that she was not thinking about race. She just chose a student. Some will claim that because of her genetics and upbringing, she could not help but be racist and that was a racist thing to do. Perhaps. What if it was not? What if the teacher did not see color? What just happened to the child? Did the child feel separated from the rest? Was race made an issue in minds of the children? Was that good or did it promote and continue the racism it seeks to prevent?

What happens to the minority when they believe in the racism they are taught? Do they see it even when it does not exist?

A man stopped to ask about a house I was selling. I talked with him a few minutes. I asked, “Are you an agent?”

He replied, “I am Latino.”

“What does that have to do with it?”

“You asked if I am Asian.”

“No. I asked if you are an agent. I wanted to know whether to open the door for you or if you had a key.”

Did the man suspect race was a problem?

Another man was telling me about his problems getting permits through the county. His comment caught me off guard, “They think I’m just some spic.” I knew that his name was Rodriguez. It had not occurred to me that racism was the problem. From what I could tell, they were giving me the same trouble as they were giving him. Was race really a problem? Or was it more of a problem in his head?

Certainly racism still exists. How do we talk about it? Continued fighting in the streets will only lead to war.

Political correctness is not the answer. We gave that eight years. Shouting down opponents is not the answer either.

Civil debate is what is needed. We need to understand the problems and look for solutions. We need to have law and order. We are all created equal – how can we encourage the best in each other and allow each other to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?