I was raised to believe that I was someone important and for most of my early years I did feel like I had an advantage over others. Not that I held it against them… although being white, not just Reformed but Christian Reformed, and from a middle-class family, did open doors for me that others were not allowed to enter.
I can, however, still remember that first night in boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base. I had never actually met a black person before, and for sure, had never showered butt naked with any… a most humiliating experience for most white boys, I can assure you. Over half of our company was black and needless to say I didn’t sleep well those first few nights. Eventually, however, we began blending as our company commander took on the responsibility of turning a bunch of young high school boys into fit fighting men.
We were a few weeks into our training and I was beginning to get over being homesick… although I was still asking myself, what in God’s Name had I done by enlisting. I decided to get a Coke in the small smoking room outside of the dorm and when I walked through the door, I realized I was the only white person there. My first inclination was to turn around and come back later, but then thought that they might take it wrong, and so I decided to go in. I pulled the Coke bottle out of the machine and popped the cap off… then lit up a Winston, trying to act as cool as I could. It was a challenge, however, because I could feel the eyes of all of them watching me.
“Where are you from white boy?” one of them asked.
My heart began pounding and I am sure my face was turning red as well because I could feel it tingling. “Michigan,” I responded timidly, “Grand Rapids area.”
“I thought I recognized you from the recruiter’s office,” he responded, “I am also from there… my name is Robert.” he added, as he put his hand out toward me.
“Wayne,” I answered, with a bit of relief, as I took hold of his hand.
In the days and weeks that followed I became more comfortable with this group of men and, along the way, they helped me to realize that, what was to me normal behavior and talk, was in their eyes arrogance and prejudicial.
Less than two years later, my life would be spared from certain death, by a squad of mostly Black Marines just like them… who gave away our position, after I had been wounded, so that an incoming rescue helicopter could bring me out. All were dead a few minutes later, even before my helicopter crash-landed at the field hospital in Da Nang.
I have learned many things since those days, yet for much of mankind, nothing has really changed at all and, in fact, things seem to be getting a whole lot worse. There has not been even one single day of Peace in all of the years since I returned from Vietnam and prejudice and hatred seem to be on the rise. I can’t help but believe that, given a choice, most of mankind would choose to live in harmony with each other and with nature if only the opportunity were to present itself to them. Unfortunately, that opportunity is seldom realized because instead of walking through the door and facing their fears, they retreat to a place of stagnated safety.
No one likes being made to feel like they are second-class and I can sympathize with those who must deal with it on a daily basis… however, my experiences of feeling not good enough have been minuscule compared to those of others and in no way am I trying to compare myself or my experiences with them. I have come to the conclusion, however, that a vast majority of mankind, including myself, have been kept out of knowing the Truth about our existence and facts surrounding certain events, many of which happened in my lifetime. Facts that would have great influence on how we think and how we live our Life. These facts have been concealed by a very small group of people who benefit greatly from our ignorance. To them, we are all just Second-Class Humans… pawns with expendable lives, to be used in their Games of Conquest. There is, however, a Great Awakening taking place and someday soon, I believe, all of mankind will come to realize the Truth of our Being.
Oh, what a glorious day that will be,
When the Truth, at last, we all shall see!