I’m sure that anyone can stand back far enough to see the widest view of what occurred in Minneapolis last week, but I need to express some deep feelings (maybe even thoughts) about that tragedy and what followed.
Our national history is certainly smeared by racism and unfair entitlement, despite that part of our credo that asserts “All men are created equal.” That history even includes a devastating war that, based mostly upon skin color, almost destroyed the nation. Many of the wounds on both sides have never really been healed. Being forced to exist at the bottom of such a social totem pole, due to skin color, is something many don’t even begin to understand, but the unmitigated murder of George Floyd by “law enforcement” was the most recent of such atrocities going back over two hundred years.
Each time such a travesty occurs (and this is certainly not the first) mass demonstrations and rage have resulted. The arresting officer, Derek Chauvin, will be reviled (justifiably) until the next malefaction by police of his ilk bring more empty apologies to families of the deceased or maimed. Such folly and the resentments that accompany it are an awful blight on the nation and upon law-abiding, hard-working police officers across the nation. One fear I have is that all policemen will be clumped together in one unfair stereotype based upon villains like Chauvin. That will also be a blight upon our country’s ethos and history.
I was so proud of all those demonstrators of all ages and races, who peacefully made their voices heard with intelligence and compassion. The frustration and rage of many can be understood without effort, considering the scene played too many times a day on every possible newscast and talk show. The horror of it is embedded in the national conscience (if we have one), those torturous nine minutes reminding many of thumbscrews and other tortures without trial during the Middle Ages. I do understand the resulting wrath and exasperation of so many who feel powerless to stop such corrupt and evil behavior from those sworn to protect justice.
The other reaction I had was in conflict with the pride I had felt earlier in those thousands of people who created emotional posters and speeches evoking tremendous sympathy before the dark side of people returned in the form of looting stores of innocent businesses owned by struggling merchants who also have families to feed in a time of deep crisis beyond what can be measured by lawlessness. Seeing those masked bandits leaving destroyed stores in flames with TV sets and other appliances, clothing and more made my heart sink at any progress that seemed in those moments evaporating by those who set upon destroying the efforts of so many to bring peace and understanding through actual justice. I understand the feeling of hopelessness over laws that work for some and not others. It was as though all the work and compassion from the peaceful marchers across the country had been erased by yet more hate and desire for revenge, which are not always the same thing as justice.
No one knows how all this will play out. Much of the optimism and hope I had of so many thousands of people coming together for a common, powerful sharing of peace and hope for change melted away with every masked looter smashing his or her way through neighborhoods of cities all over the nation, only increasing the angst while solving nothing. Even though I still want to believe that progress can be made, it seems that too many among us insist on remaining where they are with no real attempt to change anything or anyone. JB