Buying a House Can Teach You…..Things.

                Carol and I bought our first house five years ago.  We knew the house would require work and money, and we have replaced the roof, the furnace, the hot water heater, the main electrical panel, and done many other repairs during that time.

                I am presently reading “Caste” written by Isabela Wilkerson, in which she offers the idea that the United States has developed a caste system, similar to the one in India, but of course, not quite as old. She is not the only writer to offer this suggestion, but her text has much to offer for a reader that wants to know more about the last 400 years of racial divide that this country has experienced. I heartedly recommend this book to you and hope that you can pick up a copy and read it.

                One of the ideas she begins the book with is the idea of buying a house. She asks the reader to think of America as an old house, and much of what I am about to write is taken from “Caste”. Where the words are strictly hers, I will use parentheses to indicate this.

                Just as when you purchase a house, if you are fortunate enough to secure a mortgage, you realize that there is work to be done, and that if you choose not to do it, your house will deteriorate and the investment you made will be lost because of your own neglect. That is a lesson that Carol and I are in the process of learning right now.  You, as a home owner, realize that if you choose to ignore repairs that must be made, that the resulting damage will be at your own peril.

                Wilkerson writes “ We in the developed world are like homeowners who inherited a house on a piece of land that is beautiful on the outside, but whose soil is unstable loam and rock, heaving and contracting over generations, cracks patched but the deeper ruptures waved away for decades, centuries even.”  She states further that “any further deterioration is, in fact, on our hands.”

                This seems to be a striking comparison to the present racial divide that we find existing in our country today. I watched the final Presidential Debate last night and I recall two jaw dropping moments – one was when Trump stated “I am the least prejudiced person in this room”, and the other was when he compared himself to Abraham Lincoln as the President who has done the most for black people in this country – and he wasn’t too sure that he wasn’t even better than Lincoln. Only a person so in love with himself could make these outlandish claims, and those that support him —- well, those that support him are in denial about their own racism or in denial about their own leanings toward white supremacy. Of course Proud Boys and the Klan are not in denial of any such thing. I do hope the white readers of this blog are not part of these kinds of hate groups.

                Wilkerson extends her old house metaphor and writes that many people would proclaim “I had nothing to do with how this (Racial Divide) all started. I have nothing to do with the sins of the past. My ancestors never attacked indigenous people, never owned slaves.” You may be surprised that Wilkerson agrees with those statements. No one living today was here when this American house was built. However……. Wilkerson also states that “but here we are, the current occupants of a property with stress cracks and bowed walls and fissures built into the foundation.”

                We have an obligation to repair this damage, for if we do not, the ruptures will not fix themselves. Things will only get worse because of our inaction. Any of you that have had to place a bucket or two underneath a leaky roof know what I am talking about.  I urge you to revisit and rethink our American history. Become part of the solution to repair the damage that is waiting for us. Take up the work.

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