Isolation from the Group - 10/11/15

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/the-white-man-in-that-photo/

This article moved me. Human rights issues transcend race (or more broadly, in-groups vs. out-groups). What isn't quite emphasized enough in the article is just how much isolation Peter Norman probably faced as a result of his actions. Whereas Carlos and Smith stood up for what they believed in, they stood for a certain group and would be welcomed as heroes back into that group. For Norman, his actions stood AGAINST his in-group (white Australians) and thus would lead his outcast from his own group. There was probably no group which would accept him.

One of the most striking stories my father ever told me was about when he lived in Mississippi in the 70s. It was a racially volatile time in the south. It was a simply story lacking in detail. He said, "I would go to the white people bar, and they kicked me out for not being white. Then I went to where the black people were, and they kicked me out for not being black." Needless to say, he didn't stay in Mississippi for very long. But what happens to those people caught in the middle? What happens to those who do not have a group -- who don't belong anywhere? I imagine Peter Norman knew.

One last point worth emphasizing is that Peter Norman was an ordinary man who did an ordinary thing to stand against evil. This is critical because it reminds us that heroes often aren't moving worlds, they are ordinary people awaiting an opportunity where the path between good and evil diverges and a choice must be made. He had every reason to mind his own business. But as Philip Zimbardo would say, "You've gotta say: Mama, humanity is my business."