Dear Angry White Man,
I’d like to remind you of a very important interpersonal component without which most relationships could not survive. I am, of course, talking about forgiveness. And I’m not just talking about you forgiving others for wrongs you feel you have experienced. I’m talking about you realizing you’ve been wrong and making amends.
As events in your life unfold, I encourage you to repent and seek pardon — from others — and from yourself. See, most of your wrongs were based in either ignorance or greed, and that causes embarrassment. This coupled with your anger makes it difficult to let bygones be bygones, especially when you realize that you’ve hurt yourself in the long run.
Last, don’t get so embarrassed that you keep making the same mistakes. Don’t let bravado stop you from being sorry.
Just think about John Newton; your actions are small when compared to what he did. If you saw the movie “Amazing Grace” you know who John Newton is. And if you’re familiar with the song he wrote — after which the movie is named — then you can grant yourself the same redemption he received.
John Newton was a British slave trader. He loaded captured humans onto his ship and profited greatly from the sale of these people. He later came to regret his life, even though at one time he thought what he was doing was all right.
Perhaps you understand Newton, because the delusion that you are right when you are wrong has motivated your actions over the years.
Maybe you think you don’t deserve this letter. Maybe you are reading this saying, I’m not a man, I’m not white or I’m not wrong. Maybe you think I mean Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck. But if you listen to those guys and like what you hear, I’m talking to you.
And while you get credit for knowing that those guys are angry white men, you lose points for chanting their rhetoric and advancing their greedy agenda. You’ll never have their money, and — like Newton before his enlightenment — they don’t care if their policies cause pain, suffering or death. And still you’re helping them.
Remember though, this letter isn’t about recrimination, it’s about redemption. It’s about the Amazing Grace that saved John Newton, and Amazing Grace can save you, too.
Need an example? Let’s use the one where you hated the president for promising to change how we provide health care in the U.S., so that everyone could have it. When you complained about government and condemned equal access as socialism.
Have you thought about your own family? You’re old enough for Medicare, and you don’t have to worry but your children might. Today 45 million of the kids and grandkids of those receiving Social Security don’t have health care. What if your son had a heart attack this week, not in 2012 when he might be one of the 20 mil-lion more covered by the new Obama health care plan, but today?
You wouldn’t want him clutching his chest calling you. No, you’d want him to call the government. Even with the many times you have voted to deny other folks health care or voted for a candidate who tells you that government interference is bad, if your son fell to the floor you’d want 911 called and the government to send well-trained personnel with equipment to shock your son back to life.
And when your son receives life-saving emergency medical care, you won’t insist that the machines be turned off because you know he can’t pay the bill. No, you’ll take your “free” treatment and hope he’s put back together before they realize he can’t pay.
But what if they stabilize him but he needs something like a very expensive pacemaker? Will you sell your house to pay for it? This scenario is an example of why people in other countries with government-sponsored health care pay less but live longer. (Don’t believe me. Check out the World Health Organization statistics).
Now you really have a reason to be angry — angry at yourself for voting wrong.
Forgive yourself, and change your ways. After all, ’twas Grace that taught your heart to fear and Grace your fears relieved.
Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.