Charlottesville Diversity

Thoughts on Charlottesville

Rarely if ever will you find content with social or political commentary on What happened this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia deserves an exception.

In summary, a white supremacist rally turned violent when a car intentionally drove into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather D. Heyer. State troopers Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates died when their helicopter crashed while monitoring events on the ground.

The rally was held in the ironically named “Emancipation Park”. Ironic, because it hosted the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The Neo-Nazis, KKK, and other alt-right groups present were there to protest the statue’s impending removal.

It is shameful that there are those who value statues celebrating the wrong side of history. So much so, that they’re willing to incite violence in a vain attempt to restore institutionalized hate.


A growing lack of accountability

Some have argued that the demonstrators represent a growing segment of disaffected white young men across the country. It’s odd. We are clearly the wealthiest nation on the planet. Our economy is strong, and unemployment continues in a downward trend.

Do we have a large-scale problem of accountability with how we’re raising our children? Are we teaching them tolerance and the value of hard work and enterprise over entitlement? President Obama’s tweet after Saturday’s events pretty much sums it up. We’re failing a lot of young white men, it would seem.

Make no mistake, we all are very much aware of the problems facing our communities of color. And accountability for how we raise our children applies to all racial and socioeconomic segments.

One thing is clear: you can either decide to blame your problems on everyone but yourself, or you can choose to own your situation and make it right. Lighting up Tiki torches and waving around Confederate flags to argue for the side that fought to keep slavery tells me one thing. You just plain don’t have your shit together.

Who are we in the Financial Independence, Early Retired community?

What do we as a personal finance blogging community stand for, and should we even take a stand? For any of you readers who don’t know, there are a bunch of us bloggers out there, linked together through forums and Twitter and so on. We number in the thousands.

We come from differing backgrounds, circumstances, and have very unique stories to share. There are many characteristics about our community that are obvious, some maybe less so. I’ll tell you my perspective on who we are, and what we stand for.

We, the FIRE Community are:

  1. well-educated, in the conventional sense (note the massive student loan debt we’re trying to shed)
  2. punk rockers, homemakers, office drones, AARP members, and millennials with an addiction to avocado toast
  3. curious people, always looking to learn more, constantly trying to improve
  4. civic-minded, supportive of health care for all. Because honestly, we need Obamacare to ditch the cube, so we can move on to our own innovations and ideas.
  5. predominantly Caucasian and Asian, and needing to add a lot more color to our mix
  6. religious, agnostic, and atheist but never overt about any of it
  7. beer lovers and bicyclists (the best combination)
  8. conscious of the environment and believers in global warming. Science does not frighten us.
  9. supportive of the LGBTQ community
  10. tolerant

That last one, tolerant, is important to me, as I’m sure it is with most everyone else blogging about early retirement. The events in Charlottesville this past weekend will lead us into many debates and hard choices as a country. I don’t even think “tolerant” is an appropriate benchmark. “Accepting” resonates better.

Don’t let me speak for you, my early retirement brothers and sisters. Tell me in the comments what you don’t agree with in my list of ten. I look forward to the discussion.

In the meantime, continue to lead by example and be accountable. Demonstrate if anything, that tolerance and acceptance is the default, not something as far out of reach as it seems.

Comments 4

  1. I agree that the Neo Nazis are despicable in their beliefs and I am appalled that they were given a permit to March…although this is a country of free speech. A hate group should not be allowed to spew their poison. To the public. That being said, those who attacked them bear some of the blame. Violence doesn’t solve anything and the loss of life is too big a price to pay for trying to stop free speech. I only wish I had the answer…

    1. Appreciate your comments, Anonymous. I agree that free speech is of course a freedom and right, regardless of the repulsiveness of the message. Like you, I wish I had answers on why these guys (mostly guys, right?) didn’t stay in their backyards that day, to enjoy their families – keeping their Tiki torches where they belonged.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I agree that although not directly related to FIRE, the recent events are worth standing up to. Realistically, our community is poised to be leaders, and we can’t let things like this go unnoticed.

    The “growing lack of accountability” is disturbing, and I frankly don’t understand it. I feel like it came all of a sudden, within the last year, but it must have been building for longer than that.

    It’s easy to stay anonymous on the internet, so maybe some people feel ok saying shitty things because there are no repercussions. In the very least, as a web-based community, FIRE bloggers can show that we can be caring, supportive, and tolerant.

    1. Thanks for sharing those thoughtful words, Dylan. I feared this post might come off the wrong way, but if I alienate anyone because of my stance, I won’t miss them. To your point, leaders lead. It takes a healthy dose of accountability to make it work for FIRE – no room for victim mentality here.

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