A long time ago, I learned not to take letters to the editor, written in response to editorial pieces, too seriously. I simply try to take criticism constructively and accolades appreciatively.

But letters and comments made in response to some recent columns have got me thinking.

One writer, remarking on my recent downtown excursion on King Street, seems to think I may be paranoid in observing how people react to others who appear different from themselves.

Trust me, I’m not the one who’s paranoid. After all these years, I’ve learned to recognize apprehension when I see it.

I’ve also come to understand that it’s only human nature to be wary of those who are different from us. So when I walked into that business a few weeks ago, I expected the receptionist to be a little anxious about a strange black man who didn’t appear to need the services they offered.

Would the receptionist also have been fearful of a strange white man in a similar situation? Maybe. But that wasn’t the point. The point was about our community’s apprehension of the black man.

I also got some responses to a recent column about discrimination in the Charleston Fire Department.

I know this community is still grieving over the loss of nine firefighters. That tragedy wasn’t about race and neither was my column.

The complaints I wrote about had actually come from white firefighters. The discrimination in the department is universal and stems from nepotism and favoritism, the firefighters complained, and targets white men, blacks, and women.

I was taken aback by one commenter on the website who reasoned that favoritism and nepotism are prevalent in most fire departments. The writer also construed that I think blacks are owed some debt.

Don’t get me started on the debt owed blacks. Reparations for slavery is one discussion we won’t have now.

What I found more distressing about the comments was the writer’s admonition that I get over my feelings of being treated unfairly, realize we live in an imperfect world, and move on.

That brings me to the point of this diatribe. I don’t think we should accept our society’s injustices as inevitable and keep on going.

Since the beginning of mankind humans have striven to improve themselves. Why stop now?

I think people should try to understand the differences in others that make us apprehensive and fearful.

To explain away important issues as that’s just the way it is impedes our advancement.

Does the world owe me anything? You’re darn skippy, but I’ll never get it.

More importantly, the world owes our future generations. I think we can start paying that debt now by realistically working through our differences.

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