It's time to look at the bigger picture in the Sterling aftermath

Let me finish tonight with this bonfire burning of Donald Sterling.

To begin with: he lit it himself. Don't say something you don't want printed on the front page of The New York Times. How many times do you here that little warning?

How about this corollary: Don't say something you're not willing to defend publicly, especially to someone who may have an incentive to go public with it.

There are, I think we can agree, larger points to this ongoing saga of the 80-year-old rich guy who wants African-Americans to win games for him, but not to show up in the good seats--at least not within a seat of his girlfriend.

I'd like to hope (that's the best I can do) that this national focus on Donald Sterling will lead people to be more proactive on the San Andreas Fault we call "the racial divide."

I'd like to hope that all this talk about how bad Sterling is will make all of us be better ourselves.

Why? Because it's not about punishing or shunning some older guy for saying the wrong thing. It's about the sensitivity that's come of several centuries of slavery, another of Jim Crow and still another half-century of whatever we want to call what we have.

It isn't perfect. Sticking it one more time to Donald Sterling isn't going to make it so. What will bring us to a more perfect union is what we call in our religion "an examination of conscience" to figure out what each of us can do in the afterglow of this bonfire to make things better.