I just paused a few moments for a break and checked out Facebook. When I saw this link from The Washington Post. A black therapist trying to help an autistic man was shot in Florida by a cop, who, when the therapist asked why he did it, said: “I don’t know.”
Now, I’m not a mind-reader and won’t begin to say that this is the reason, but I do try to put myself in people’s shoes, to empathize. If I were a cop after the cop shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Washington, DC, and probably elsewhere, I would be jittery. And, not only that, I’d be jittery about whether I would do the right thing in uncommon situations. Anxiety is a pretty unpredictable reaction because your emotions are not in control.
(None of the above is to condone or make excuses for police officers shooting an unarmed member of a minority group, by any means. The shooting of an innocent, unarmed individual is inexcusable. )
Then I read the comment section. The very first comment I read was a racist remark, drawn from emotion because the person had no fact to support it. A deluge followed.
Yesterday a group of Black Lives Matter protesters blocked a commuting route near the Fraternal Order of Police office in DC. They were in their 20’s and of mixed ethnicity, but mostly white. They held signs and chanted: “you can’t go to work … I see your white privilege.” I read an (unsupported) tweet that they made an elderly man walk around their protest line shouting about his white privilege. It’s been hot and humid here all week, probably far too hot for an elderly man to go blocks out of his way. If this tweet is true, I do wonder about the level of compassion of these young people. Did not one of them think: “that could be my grandfather” and let the old man through?
Again, the comments section went ballistic. More hate. More racist remarks. This time from the other side of the table.
Emotions in all groups are out of control.
Carefree is gone. I like to think that I am an optimist. I like to see the good in people. I like to think that we all have the ability to take a walk in other people’s shoes. I know that there is also a limit to this unless we’re mistaken for one in a minority group and shown first hand the “ugly” that others go through on a daily basis.
A friend of mine told me about an incident in which she was at the grocery checkout line one Saturday evening when a couple of white guys in their 20’s were in an adjacent lane buying cases of Miller and Bud. They started going off about lesbians and gay people. She told me: “I just ran over to pick something up for dinner for my husband and me. I didn’t put make-up on or change out of my sweats. They figured I was a lesbian. They were laughing and saying disgusting things. I was confused until the woman at the register, looked at me with compassion. She was a black lady who’s been in there forever. There was no one else around. They were making fun of me.”
She said that made her realize to a very small degree what other people go through on a daily basis. She hadn’t done anything to them. She just existed (in their minds as a lesbian). And that was enough.
Last week a transgender woman who had a loving and supportive family was murdered in DC. The police haven’t called it a hate crime yet, because it’s unsolved; no motive. It seems that her existence probably offended someone who then thought they had the right to murder her.
I am sad. There’s no two ways about it. I thought we were moving beyond racism and hatred of people different from us and, in some cases, the same as us. But these past few years showed that as naive.
We need an entity of peace and rationality.
We need an entity of peace and rationality. We need people who speak of peace and acceptance and being kind and being generous of spirit because that is what we all can bring to the table. And, we need to respect.
I am smart enough to know that there are people who will never be enlightened and that speaking of peace and respect to them would be like bashing my head into concrete and that there will be people who hate, but it would be nice if they were the minority group that we spoke about. “Those five people in all of the world who just can’t help themselves.”