The glue of our society is brittle. Under the pressure of various crises, the cracks have widened and things are beginning to break apart.
A virus has killed over 100,000 Americans. Yet, we are re-opening the economy even though the number of cases (and deaths) is continuing to rise in many areas of the nation. Cohesive leadership and even basic human compassion has been in short supply from too many of our elected officials. Combine that with 15% or higher unemployment that has threatened families and businesses and it easy to understand why people feel under siege.
Another unnecessary death of black man at the hands of a white cop was the catalyst for chaos.
There is plenty to be pissed off about: white cops killing young black men and people perpetrating violence and destruction at will in cities across our nation.
But I am most pissed off that I need to be in close contact with my daughter and her family in St. Paul to make sure they are still safe. Even though they are a good distance from Minneapolis, the places they shop have been looted, burned, or boarded up and they hear the steady wail of sirens every day. They cannot venture far from home. Now it is personal! The cities and suburbs all around us here in Illinois and Wisconsin have all experienced some sort of violence against police and looting last night.
An act of violence (the death of a black man by a rouge white cop) birthed acts of violence (arson, looting, and injuring police officers) by instigators and opportunists across the land and that birthed more violence (as police do whatever is necessary to restore order). A series of knee-jerk reactions becomes a chain of violence. When it is all done, the frustrations and hatred is slightly submerged only to re-surface with renewed intensity when the next incident occurs. Yet, little if anything positive or solution-oriented is ever done.
Missing are the calls for calm, reform, training, understanding, listening, including all stakeholders at the table, considering all the causal factors, and making positive change. Instead the issues are politicized, blame is assigned to “the other”, and nothing gets done.
I don’t know what it is like to be black in America. I don’t know what it like to be a police officer in an American city. I don’t know what it is like to have to have my business looted or burned down. I don’t know what it like to be still dealing with the effects of slavery, mistreatment, and disenfranchisement. I don’t know what it is like to worry about my black son being unlawfully arrested or shot. I don’t know what it is like to worry that that my marriage partner may be shot simply for doing his or her job. But I should!
We will need to listen before we speak. We will need to seek to understand before we are understood. We will need to honor and love the individual that is different than us, but really, not so much, before we receive similar compassion.
Then we can begin to work together to make things better.