White privilege. Racism. Police brutality. Black lives matter. So much is happening right now and I am finding myself sad. Sad that race does matter. Sad that I have let it matter and have a heavy heart of regret that I did. Sad that I have many friends and family who don’t see their privilege or understand it really does exist. Sad that although we have come so far as a country, we still have so far to go. Sad that we can’t talk to one another in a civilized manner, discuss our differences and move forward, together. Sad that I just read a post in which a police officer states he stopped caring because society has stopped doing their part. Sad that our good police officers feel such frustration and are taking the heat for a few bad apples.
The Facebook post of this officer’s writing opened with the status “It is not a perfect world, but there are two sides.” Initially I found myself understanding and feeling empathy toward his feelings. There are two sides. But I found myself, after reading the entire article, even sadder as I realized that is the saddest part – there are two sides and right now those two sides cannot find a middle ground. We are becoming a paralyzed society that refuses to listen and empathize with another’s point if view. We are a society that is increasingly becoming a “I’m ok, you’re not ok” society. (If you haven’t heard that term, you should check out the book Pendulum, by Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew. It describes how society swings the pendulum every 40 years and we are now approaching the swing of the Me, which is where we were during the rise of the Nazi’s, the civil war and the Salem Witch Trials. It is where we are so sure we are right, we refuse to even consider or respect there is another opinion or choice.)
“I stopped caring today because the culture of today’s instantly connected youth is only there to take and never give back. To never accept responsibility for ones actions, but to blame everyone else instead of themselves. To ask “what is in it for me?” versus “what can I do for you?”” http://nycfirewire.com/today-i-stopped-caring
I have read this statement over and over and that does not describe my son or my daughter and they are today’s youth. This is no better than articles or posts condemning all police officers. It is no better than a statement such as “I stopped obeying the laws because the police force is all about brutality and bullying. They never accept responsibility or hold themselves to a higher standard.” Both statements are exaggerations and don’t help society one little bit. We cannot make such general statements. And then when I read the comments to the article I was saddened even more. The two sides, only seeing their side; either all cops are heroes or police are all ignorant, gun loving, bullies! Can both sides take a step back? I can only speak for myself, but I respect police officers. I think most of them do their job respectfully and engaging and I am glad they are here to protect me and my family. I also believe some of them are bullies. Some let power go to their head. Some are racist. Some act outside the law. They are not all perfect. I also believe racism still exists. I believe white privilege is not understood and many in our society refuse to accept it is real. I think some of our youth are selfish and give little back to society. I can also say the same for my age group and the elderly. We are all individuals and for anyone to start making assumptions of one group based on the actions of some individuals is wrong, regardless of the side.
Things are not always black and white. In the case of the shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson MO, it seems to me one must either be pro police or anti police. Either see Michael Brown as a thug or a wonderful kid, misunderstood and gunned down by the police. We must either believe one or the other. That is Black and White. But it is NOT!
I am not anti police, but I find it difficult to understand the statistics that black people are about four times more likely to die in custody or while being arrested than Caucasians. I do not think Michael Brown did nothing to contribute to the circumstances he was in, but I don’t believe he deserved to die. This is the grey area. This is where it gets dirty. But this is where we as a society, we as individuals, must take a step or two out of our comfort zone. We must listen, really listen to what the other side is saying. I have been just as guilty, but that is why I read conservative and liberal postings. That is why I have friends with differing opinions. That is why I try very hard to not pass judgement without researching facts. Something I wish so many people would do before liking or reposting things.
We – all we – black, white, rich, poor, Christian, Atheist, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, young and old, MUST STOP drawing a line in the sand. Stop seeing everything as black and white and start seeing and living and understanding the grey. We need to allow the black and the white lines to merge together. At this time of year, when many faiths and people of religion and no religion celebrate the season and look for the good in the world, we should be reaching out and be understanding of differing opinions. Only when we can truly come to love one another and accept that we all have faults and that our way may not be the only way, will we progress towards Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men.