Saturday, January 03, 2015

What Matters?

On almost every level of society we are divided these days.  Congress has been crippled from doing anything of substance  due to a polarization of "us" verses "them".  Religions preach a separation of our God vs. Their God, our beliefs from their beliefs. It appears that we are not trying to become inclusive but we are looking for ways to separate ourselves from others.  The biggest separation is between those who have power and those who don't.  Those who don't have it want to be part of the group that does have power.  Those in power certainly don't want to give away their power or even share it. 
Those in authority stay in authority by using their power over those who have neither power nor authority.  If the saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely" is true, then any slight abuse of power corrupts proportionally.  The latest version of "us vs. them" is being played out between local police departments and young black men. 

This is not a new problem but a very old one that has become acute in the last year.  I lived through the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.  It was caused by a Los Angeles police department totally out of control and a group of people unrepresented, marginalized and oppressed to the breaking point.  Both groups over reacted with the wrong approach so there was anarchy and total failure of the system.  It was a very scary time in Southern California.  There was mass looting, fires in every part of the city and even shots fired at airplanes landing at LAX.  The oppressed group figured out the power structure could be overloaded and crippled by sheer numbers of incidents. The same tipping point  is happening in cities all over the country, only now we have instant social media to spread a movement like a grass fire.  The potential now is greater for a much bigger rebellion in today's world.

We have over worked police departments who have been armed with combat style equipment, but little training on how to defuse a situation without violence.  Police don't seem to know how to apportion violence. They seem to lack knowledge of what actions are appropriate and what actions are excessively violent.  When a child with a toy gun is shot multiple times by police two seconds after arrival at the scene, that is excessive violence.  A profession that allows excessive violence without impunity will surely attract the bullies of society. Cops claim that if people would just respect the uniform and comply with orders no one will get hurt.  At the same time they turn their backs in disrespect on their symbol of authority in New York City.  To get respect you have to know what it means.  

On the other side we have a gap between those who can afford legal representation and those who can't.  This inequity is divided absolutely along economic lines. If people believe they will be denied justice in a court of law, they will take the law into their own hands.   It is the recipe for revolution and violence.  What I am seeing now is people joining one side or the other, even dawning uniforms. 
Take for example these tee shirts appearing at rallies. It seems on the surface to be nothing but an over use of adjectives.  One side wants to remind us that Black Lives matter.  The "other side" wants to remind us that blue lives matter.  
Only adjectives separate us.  Take them away and you have a universal truth that everyone can agree on.  "Lives Matter", the truth is condition-less, no adjectives needed,  all lives matter.
 Human beings will always be more alike than they are different.  The differences are so superficial that they should not separate us but free us to be individuals with unique perspectives.  But as long as we see a black man, or a police man, or a hit man and not first the man with no adjectives, there will always be a division.  
When both sides start wearing Lives Matter tee shirts we will be at the beginning of a solution to this division.  Treat others the way you want to be treated regardless of any adjectives and we might just get through this life time.
As you were,

Happy New Year. Make it a good one.  


P. Grecian said...

Excellent, Jay. Thank you.

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