What a range of emotions. We watched in awe as once again man was able to tame the forces of gravity and launch ourselves into outer space. That was the apex. Then we panned back to rioting as we looted and burned in rage and frustration. That was the nadir. Somewhere in all of this we share the same elements of humanity. That is so hard to compute.
Some will deny we have anything in common. We throw around terms like genius and trailblazer on the one hand and animal and ingrate on the other. It seems we have no perception or realization of what life is like outside our own personal bubbles. It plays both ways.
George Floyd’s murder was a bit of a wake up call for me. Sure I was saddened by previous deaths of black men and women but for some strange reason it was miles away. Whether it was the unflinching camera angle or the slow agony of a man’s life slipping away right before my eyes, it slammed me right in the gut.
There was no mincing of words. There was no possibility of misinterpretation. That white cop put his knee to the prisoner’s neck and then rearranged his position mid flight to make sure he was getting the desired effect. And not one of the other three even whimpered for the man’s mercy. That is unconscionable. I can’t believe we have stooped so low.
We have seen an explosion of hatred and contempt on both sides. It’s our nation and possibly our world’s dirty little secret. We hate anyone who is not one of us.
Lash out at the infidels. The fact that some are black makes it even easier. Men in blue? Just target them. Jews? Asians? Middle Easterners? We find it so satisfying to paint with a broad brush. The poor hate the rich and the rich find the poor contemptible. Even if I can stand you I want you to remain in your place. No more. No less.
We cannot even come close to understanding what it is like to be black. The violence, the poverty, and criminality that is exaggerated by a hyper vigilant society are ingrained in you from birth. College students are stopped and frisked. A member of the board of the New York Audubon Society gets called out in Central Park. Black Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina has been stopped and questioned several times in his tenure. This isn’t an honest mistake. It is part of our culture.
We don’t know what it is like to be a cop. To be called”Pig”. To deal with the seamier side of life all day long and be pelted with rocks and garbage when you are trapped in a cruiser. How about a Hispanic that just wants something more for his family than gangs and drugs? A woman still facing glass ceilings or the leering and cat calls of a city street. Everyone gets beat up in their own way. Sometimes you have had enough and your rage boils over.
We decry activists. Don’t you know how wonderful America is? How good you have it? Unfortunately Kool Aid doesn’t quench a desperate thirst. The haves aren’t necessarily the rich but ones who have made it into the gated community of middle class. They would like more but are not bereft.
The under trodden don’t have lobbyists. Those are the rich people’s vessels of influence. You might even call them activists for the good life. This word or phrase or bill gives Morgan Stanley and its clients a very lucrative write off. A little prodding here and there gets you a defense contract. They are not demonstrating but then again maybe they are in a totally different way. Subtlety and back rooms breed an air of innocence.
People demonstrate because it is the only way to make people listen. Sure it is brash and in your face. It won’t go away. Looting and torching places give us the cover to justify our indignation. But deep down you know something is wrong and boy does it feel uncomfortable to think they might be right.
We have been going over this since I was a kid in the fifties. It has gotten a little more complex with women, Hispanics, gays et all thrown into the fray. We have spent trillions on the Great Society with nothing to show for it. We have not figured out immigration since 1987. Women are making a dent but it is still just a minor recalculation in our male chauvinist world. And cops are still beating the crap out of black people at a moment’s notice.
Depressing? Yes it is. I have never felt worse for our country. Not economically but the humanity side of the equation. We have a ruling class that is clueless and ineffective. We can land on a flying tin can 250 miles above the earth but we can’t agree on proper way to educate our kids. We throw away 35% of our foodstuffs while 25-30% of our population is food insufficient.
I am sorry I am not more upbeat. Reality sucks. Here in LaLa Land, I should probably just shut up and practice my golf or curl up with a good book. I will try once again to drink my feel good elixir but for the moment I can’t get this out of my mind. I keep going back to the riots. They are telling us something. Will we listen?
Ted The Great
There are instigators on both sides of the spectrum in riots. You have far right White Extremists and far left Anti Fascists. In between are looters and burners. A majority of demonstrators are law abiding who get swept up in the fury and as a result get arrested. Both federal and local authorities have yet to identity specific groups.
Because of unions, labor contracts and the Blue Wall cops are rarely disciplined. In Minneapolis over the last eight years over 2400 cases of abuse are reported. 12 policemen were found in violation. The harshest sentence was losing 40 hours of pay. A vast majority of cops are good if not great. Unfortunately the bad apples don’t get rooted out.
Conflicts are a natural part of relationships. They usually arise out of people’s misunderstanding of an issue, their needs, or their desire to be understood. Because conflicts involve perceived threats to our well-being and survival, they stay with us until we face and resolve them. It’s as simple and complex as that.