This New Year, Close Your Eyes

By Nayla Rush, December 31, 2015

As the year comes to an end, it is customary to reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future.

What is undeniable is the intensity of the divide that has dominated the public sphere in the United States in (not just) 2015. Political parties have grown further apart; accentuated tensions have reached the point of alienation. The "divorce" is also palpable among various ranks within the American public.

Somehow, some have designated themselves as the emissaries of moral standards and sole defenders of American values. Americans with different views and opinions are deemed unworthy of respect and quickly disavowed.

Those self-appointed leaders of ethics are keen on impetuously brushing away any immigration-related concerns others might have. Immigrants, according to them, can only have a positive effect on the American society. Their nationality, background, culture, religion, education, etc. do not matter. They are all good people with good intentions who only want a better life (and let us not hold a grudge against those who broke the law). On the other hand, Americans who do not hold the same outlook are dismissed racist, ill-intentioned beings who should be fought indiscriminately.

We are all influenced by the people we associate with, whether family, friends, party leaders, or fellow adherents. But objectivity is no impossible task. One useful exercise is to attempt to forget the source of others' opinions or proposals – or better yet, pretend they are from "one of us". Would we then be so hasty to brush them off?

A brilliant movie, specifically one powerful summation scene in the movie, comes to mind here: "A Time to Kill". It recounts the story of a white lawyer in Mississippi who defends a black man accused of killing the two rednecks who allegedly raped his 10-year-old daughter.

In his summation, Matthew McConaughey, who plays the father's lawyer, appeals to the jury:

I want to tell you a story. I'm going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her. They drag her into a nearby field and they tie her up and they rip her clothes from her body. Now they climb on. First one, then the other, raping her, shattering everything innocent and pure with a vicious thrust in a fog of drunken breath and sweat… Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white...

So, for a happier year to come, instead of making new resolutions (which we're likely to forget as soon as they are uttered), how about we simply close our eyes?