“Fix your heart, man.”
No disrespect to Joey Logano, but I never thought that particular NASCAR driver would say something that would stick with me like those words have.
Logano was speaking in a video on social media after a noose was found in the Talladega garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR. It would later be found that the noose had been there since last fall, but at the time, it was thought that the noose was a gesture of hate toward Wallace.
Logano and other NASCAR drivers stood behind their competitor and friend, figuratively and literally: in interviews, social media and in a pre-race gesture in which they pushed Wallace’s car to the front of pit road and stood with him for the national anthem.
“I cannot believe the hate that someone would have in their heart to put a device that kills people in someone’s garage because of the color of his skin or what he stands for,” said Logano. “No baby is born racist. It’s taught. Just think about that. Fix your heart.”
It’s the Fourth of July. And Logano’s words have been sticking with me. I’ve never felt this way about our country on the Fourth of July, but on July 4, 2020, I think we need a lot of heart-fixing.
The division of the country has never seemed so sharp at any time during my (coughs into hand) fiftysomething years on this Earth.
For too many, the conversation about political and social issues is an all-or-nothing, zero sum game. That’s not a conversation. It’s a lecture. It’s a rant. Conversations involve listening. There’s a lot of talking going on right now, but not enough listening.
If you won’t acknowledge racism is real, that it’s still a problem or, worse, if you judge people by the color of their skin, or you still think it’s OK to fly the Confederate battle flag, fix your heart.
Conversely, if you see racism at every turn, and weaponize that word — “racist” — to shut down anyone who disagrees with you politically, you’re 100% shouting and 0% listening.
It’s time to open your ears if you can’t, or won’t, recognize the complicated nuances of issues we face, like immigration.
If you despise illegal immigration to the extent that you have no compassion for the kids who were brought here through no doing of their own. Or, if you brand someone as a racist just for opposing illegal immigration — that’s an unfair leap of logic. Fix your heart.
If you seek to “cancel” someone for their words, without really understanding what they meant, or allowing for the possibility of a mistake, or redemption. Or, if you’re that person who said something offensive, and refuse to engage with your critics and acknowledge how your words were hurtful.
It’s possible to say something wrong, and atone for it, if both sides have the heart to listen.
If you refuse to acknowledge that police force has been used disproportionately against Black suspects, you need to check your heart — and the stats.
But there’s another side to that coin, and too many refuse to see it: If you decry police violence without recognizing that the vast, vast majority of cops are good people trying to do an impossible job under impossible circumstances, you also need to check your heart — and the stats.
It is, after all, possible to want policing to be better, while still supporting those good people who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.
It’s also possible to believe some instances of police violence were abhorrent, and some of them were justified — and each instance needs to be evaluated based on facts, not rhetoric. Everyone is entitled to due process — no matter how despicable the act they are accused of committing.
If you apply a set of ethical standards to one party’s politicians, but turn a blind eye when your own party’s politicians violate those same standards. Bad behavior is bad behavior, period.
If you applaud free speech, but seek to shut down the speech you disagree with. If you preach tolerance, but act intolerant.
If you intentionally strip away the context of your political opponents’ words — you’ve sacrificed a bit of your soul just to “win.”
If you cheer the Black Lives Matter protesters for exercising their First Amendment rights, but mock the people who exercise theirs in a rally to support law enforcement — or vice versa.
If you don’t believe Black lives matter, you need to fix your heart.
And, if you refuse to understand that it’s possible to believe Black lives matter, without endorsing the specific political goals and methods of the Black Lives Matter organization, check yours, too.
Then there’s the “all lives matter” question. The people who say it, and those who deride them for saying it, refuse to understand each other. How about listening to each other and grasping both perspectives? They shouldn’t be exclusive of each other.
If you’ve ever unfriended someone just because they voted for Trump. Or, just because they didn’t. What kind of friend are you, really?
If you refuse to wear a mask to protect your fellow humans during a pandemic. Or, if you rant about one set of demonstrators going maskless, but give a pass to those demonstrators with whom you agree politically. See the double standard?
If you love America, but are blind to its flaws. Or, if you see only the flaws, and are blind to the greatness. Open your heart, your eyes, and your ears.
Sadly, today there will be no parades, and no community fireworks shows. It’s too bad, because those are just the kinds of unifying exercises in lightness we could use right now.
It’s the Fourth of July. Let’s fix our hearts.
Tim Whyte is the editor of The Signal.