Time to get rid of ‘exceptions’

Sept. 23, 2022
by Ivan Raconteur

I was recently struck by the beautiful simplicity of a sentiment tweeted by a Lakota Man, whose Twitter handle is @LakotaMan1. He was responding to a tweet by a woman who claimed she did not want “her” country to be turned into a tent city.

Dakota Man’s response was, “Everyone’s welcome in my giant tent. My teepee has enough room for all. White, black, brown, regardless of religion or gender, or immigration status – all are welcome.”

We make a big show in the United States of claiming that all are welcome and treated the same. The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” In practice, we did not defend that ideal when that was written, and we definitely don’t know.

From the beginning, the policy was that men were equal, but women didn’t have the same status or rights. They had to fight long and hard to get them. Then, there were the exceptions.

In practice, all men were equal – except for black men. Not only did they not have the same rights, but there were those who treated blacks as sub-human.

All men were equal – except for the indigenous people who lived on this land for thousands of years before European settlers invaded the land, committed genocide, herded those who survived onto reservations and sent their children to schools where whites tried to beat their native culture and language out of them.

Even though the new arrivals were themselves, immigrants, it didn’t take them long to implement policies under which all later immigrants were equal – except those who came from places that those in charge considered “undesirable.

Instead of learning from the atrocities of the past and b coming to a more welcoming nation where everyone really was treated equally, we continued to find exceptions and reasons to exclude or mistreat some groups.

Everyone was equal – unless they practiced the wrong religion, had the wrong sexual orientation or could be shut out for any number of other reasons.

To make matters worse, some politicians see nothing wrong with using asylum seekers or potential immigrants as human pawns in their political games. This didn’t just happen in the unenlightened past, and it is happening today.

Make no mistake – once some immigrants were welcomed into this country and were able to fulfill their dreams, they immediately sought out positions of power and tried to slam the door behind them, keeping others out.

The Lakota have a saying, Mitakuye oyasin, which translated means “we are all related.” It seems to me we have treated some of our relatives very shabbily indeed.

I embrace the concept that everyone is welcome in my tent. Regardless of things that may divide us, all are welcome. It is that very diversity that makes life richer and that makes our nation stronger.

It’s time to get rid of the exceptions in this country and live in a way that proves we really do believe that we’re all equal.

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