People have asked me what my thoughts are on the Black Lives Matter movement. Living in Maine, the whitest of states, doesn’t tend to make me an authority on the plight of any minority. But I have lived in other places. I have traveled to cities awash in different races and I have dealt with immigrants, like my own family who couldn’t speak the language, didn’t understand the customs, looked painfully peculiar and ate unfamiliar food on the holidays.

So, what is it people don’t understand about the Black Lives Matter movement? Black people are disproportionally dying by police action, as a consequence of poverty, as a result of discrimination and they want everyone to notice so this can stop.

There is only one thing to say about the idea: if you consider Black people to be human beings, and you will agree that no one race is superior to another then, yes, each one of their lives matters as much as anyone’s life. You should have no trouble at all with the movement and the concept that Black lives matter.

If, on the other hand, you consider one race superior to the others or you do not consider people of different races to be human beings, then I completely understand where you are coming from. Personally, I think it would be a good idea for you to review some of these values in light of your religion, your God, the U.S. Declaration of Independence and philosophers from Aristotle to modern-day thinkers like the University of Michigan’s Dr. Elizabeth Anderson who reasons that “People, not nature, are responsible for turning the natural diversity of human beings into oppressive hierarchies.”

And please don’t tell me that White lives or all lives matter, because that is missing the point. Black people are trying to get the message out to all non-Black people that their lives matter too.

If you were in a prison suffering from maltreatment by the Green people, you would try to get the message out that prisoners’ lives matter because prisoners are human too. You wouldn’t go demonstrating that the Green warden, the guards and the prison staff lives matter because, if I have to spell it out for you, their lives are not at risk.

Movements do not materialize out of thin air; they are usually based on a grievance and that grievance is usually an injustice. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and inhibits our ability to work together.

Some of the world’s best thinkers warn that we are on a course where more pandemics will aggravate climate change. This will stress the world’s ecosystems and lead to a loss of species diversity which will ultimately take humans out of the picture. I was hoping that humans could maybe last until the sun explodes but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

There are two ways to deal with this hell-hole we’ve created. We can wall ourselves off, carve out a space for people who look and think alike and try to beat back the hordes that will be looking to us for a kind word and a new start. In the end it won’t work out well. As White people, of which I am one, we are outnumbered, by far, and people tend to have a long memory when they are wronged or abandoned.

Or, we can get together as one, guard against racial discrimination, give comfort to those people emigrating whose skin color is different, who speak different languages, who worship different Gods and make use of their talent and energy. We can put our collective energy together to patch up the earth, keep our environment from turning against us, eliminate poverty, promote education and end conflict. I know I sound very kumbaya-ish but I’m thinking like a neo-survivalist now and not a flower child.

If you’re worried that concerns about race, gender and class are turning into obsessions and overshadowing the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, know that unless there is justice for all, liberty and happiness ring selfish and hollow.

I know readers expect levity and relief from the world’s problems in this column but let me relay a warning from my wife: “He’s getting older and more cynical.” Casting a ray of hope, she still loves me and reminds me there is still much to laugh at. Let’s just hope that he who laughs last isn’t the last man standing.