Don’t get over it!
Learning How to Talk to Each Other with Care and Sensibility!
We are a nation that is broken and fragmented by the painful narratives of conquer and triumph. As a people, we continue to bear psychologically and relationally the sins of our past as well as those in the present, and we are deeply stamped from the beginning. Unfortunately, we do not know how to talk to one another, relate to the other individual who is different from us, and we often abuse people in the name of American democracy, and in the name of individual rights and liberty. Further, we do not seek help because we believe we are not sick; rather, we have convinced ourselves it is the other person who needs assistance and that it will be alright if we just move forward. This is the power of self deception, hypocrisy, and collective guilt.
No good doctor will tell a patient who has just been diagnosed with cancer to move forward without recommending proper treatment to help alleviate the pain and hopefully eradicate the disease. No good teacher will advise his or her students not to prepare or study for the upcoming exam because of the belief in the inherent ability and aptitude of the students to conquer all possible and potential examinations and challenges.
The “get over it” language is a common response in American conversations, and it occurs between individuals in position of dominance and individuals in peripheral place in the American society. This kind of language fosters isolation, resentment, and hostility in human interaction and between us as a family. If you want to nurture positive and healthy friendship and relationship with someone who lives in the margins of society, do your best to avoid employing the “get over it” rhetoric. It is a painful reaction that triggers the painful memory of the past.
Therefore, it is insensitive to tell modern American Jews to “get over it,” that is, the genocide of Jews in Germany. It is insensitive to tell Native Americans to “move on” because of the historic mass murder of and violence against their ancestors is of the past. Also, it is insensitive to say to Japanese Americans to forget the Japanese internment camps where their ancestors were annihilated. Correspondingly, it is also insensitive to tell African Americans and blacks in general to get over slavery in which their ancestors were brutally harassed, tortured, and died. We continue to deploy this rhetoric because of the continual diminishing value of human life in our society. We are not sanitized to human pain, suffering, sorrows, and death.
The “get over it” language is never an effective way to engage in meaningfully sensitive conversations with those who have been victimized in our society or whose ancestors have experienced terrorism, dehumanization, and death itself. Various forms of human suffering and types of human degradation come to people like permanent invisible scars which they carry with them everyday; they continue to haunt their memory and alternate their actions and movements in the present because the human life, from it’s inception, has been marked by suffering and pain. Suffering challenges our humanity and sometimes makes us doubt the gift of life and the power of perseverance and love.
In addition, the human memory is a powerful device even after the death or the lost of a loved one, it continues to shape our existence and human relations. Individuals who continue to rush others to get over the suffering their ancestors went through undermines the gift and sacredness of life–past, present, and future–and do not empathize with those who are currently suffering in the present because of the repercussions of a history of collective suffering and dehumanization. People mourn about death because human life is sacred and a person’s life should never be taken for granted.
In order to live together and peacefully, and to become fully humans as God has intended for all people in Jesus Christ, the Bible, in strongand provocative language, commands us to forgive one another, to support one another, to emphasize with those who are suffering and oppressed, to bear one another’s burden, and to love one another as Christ has loved us and died sacrificially to reconcile the world with God and individuals to each another. Reconciliation is a Christian ministry that is rooted not in human resentment and retaliation but in human understanding and forgiveness produced by the empowering presence and intervention of the Holy Spirit; it is also grounded on the ethics of selflessness and participation as we’re as the people of God are called by God himself to participate not just in the sufferings of Christ, but also in the sufferings and sorrows of our brothers and sisters.