The last couple of days have been an incredible roller coaster of news, reaction and emotion. Even for someone who is normally even-keeled and calm about events (except for Fukushima, which scared the **** out of me) , I have found the last couple of days to be unsettling and unacceptable.
I’ve watched the video from Baton Rouge. I’ve seen it in slow motion, freeze framed it. I’ve listened to the sound track, watched the officers, watched the victim. I’ve tried to put myself in the place of the responding officers, in the churn that occurs during a melee. I watched the struggle cause the car they up against to rock back and forth, watched two officers on top of the victim, watched the victim’s hand stretch out wide. Watched the officer pull a gun and put it against the victim’s chest. Watched the gaping, bloody wound and last gurgling gasp on the video. And tried to understand what I saw…
It was murder.
A stop due to a broken tail-light on a car in Minnesota with a man still in the car, shot and killed as deliberately as the victim in Charleston SC running on foot from a stop for a burned out tail light.
And then Dallas. Cold blooded, calculated, inexcusable, mass murder. Five police officers ambushed, targeted, murdered.
We are losing our collective minds as a civilized society. Hate is winning. Violence is winning. Racism is winning.
There are no simple answers, no simple solutions. Not even close. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE. Everyone has to get out of their entrenched, dug-in, hardened, unyielding positions on race, police, guns.
Race– Whites do not understand the issues of DWB (driving while black), or of the looks given to any black boy, man-boy, or adult who doesn’t look like us. They do not understand the inherent bias of much of society that exists despite a black President, Attorney General, former Secretary of State, governors, mayors, judges. They do not understand disparity in wages, jobs, sentences, that occur when the person is white compared to black.
Blacks do not understand the issues of cultural isolation, thug-life, drug life, basis of stereotypes that they need to own up to and correct. Blacks do not understand the impact of the double standard between the lack of outrage at black-on-black violence and white-on-black. They do not understand the impact of calling your homie a nigga when a white is called out on it. They do not understand that they have a role to play in educating all of society in a civilized way of the issues faced.
Police – The vast, vast majority of police are tremendous, outstanding, public servants. They give of themselves, down to the last breath of life, protecting the people, the society that we live in – that we ALL live in. Without them it would truly be a wild west, with the anarchy and bloodshed that exists in the failed country-states of South and Central America, horn of Africa, and Mideast.
Too often they are killed by idiots, thugs and punks in situations where no normal person would expect it…at a restaurant in Hartford County, coming out of the station in Prince George’s County, sitting in a squad car in New York City. At a march in Dallas. These deaths are unacceptable, indefensible.
The police need to understand that the rule of silence can no longer be tolerated, that those who are racist, violence-loving, power-tripping or just not competent and skilled enough at their job need to be reported, redirected, retrained or removed. They are not just a blight, they are a massive cancer because the few are truly destroying the reputation of the many.
Guns – We need to end the love affair with guns that is romanticized in movies and music videos. They aren’t cool, they aren’t hip, they aren’t acceptable except in some specific realms of sport and hunting. We need to recognize that there is something between banning everything and allowing everything. More people with them isn’t the answer. Louisiana is an open carry state, and nothing was done to see if Alton Stirling was legally carrying. Philando Castile had a permit to carry in an open carry state, but was shot dead anyway. More people carrying guns will cause more problems for the police, and lead to more deaths of innocent people (whether they are totally innocent or innocent of anything close to a capital crime)
I don’t know what the answer is. But we damn sight need to start working on it. Why isn’t every police organization in the country revisiting officer training for confronting suspects? Why isn’t the NRA helping fund officer training for dealing with confrontational situations? Why aren’t the vocal police critics in the film and music industries funding body cameras for major departments? Why aren’t politicians standing up to the one-issue megaphones who only want to blame police, guns, blacks, whites, etc. How can we get past the them-against-us mentality that keeps us entrenched in our bunker positions?
I need to stop, think, and find my own way to engage with my community (which is very racially diverse but separated), my police, and my government. Even if it is as small a first step as speaking to those of a different race that I pass on my walks. We all need to do something. We need to stop feeding the fires, and start finding solutions.
Or we will lose civilization.