Let me say at the outset that I do not draw conclusions about the actions of law enforcement officers from videos posted on social media. I learned long ago that it is prudent to wait to hear all the facts before coming to any conclusion about whether an officer’s actions were lawful and justified. The split-second decisions law enforcement officers have to make in the field are very easy to criticize in retrospect and those criticisms can be leveled with very little understanding of the dynamics and dangers of the job.
I also do not assume that law enforcement officers never make mistakes, are immune from evidencing ingrained bias and prejudice, or may misuse their power and authority. I recognize that these things can, and do, happen. But I do not rush to judgment because I know that on the whole, the members of law enforcement are out there putting their lives on the line day-in and day-out to keep the community safe.
I am concerned about where we are going as a country when there are those who not only view law enforcement officers as the enemy, but also vilify them to the point that attacking and killing them as a political statement seems justified. The message that black lives matter is not furthered by a counter message that blue lives do not. Indeed, the message is diminished by the evidenced inconsistency.
Black lives matter. There should not be varying daily realities based on skin color alone, but we know there are. This is not an imagined phenomenon, it is fully realized and it has the potential to be deadly.
A revolution is afoot, but with the attacks on law enforcement officers it has become a bloody one. What is sorely needed here is a greater focus on evolution. Evolution does not come from devolving into lawlessness. Evolution comes from furthering the focus, intent, and dialogue of change. Evolution is what civilizations must do to learn, grow, and become better. And in a society where the color of one’s skin affects daily realities, we must all commit to evolve.
But let’s face it, evolution is not just sorely needed in regard to differential treatment based on skin color, but also in a number of other areas such as fair and equal treatment in regard to sexual preference, gender identity, religious beliefs, etc. In general, we need to evolve to become more tolerant of the things we see in others that can be dropped into “us”/”them” categories. This is about the “we” in the Constitution’s “We the people…” – this is about promoting unity.
If we cannot stand together as Americans, in all the richness and diversity that comprises this great country, we will find that our division will eat away at the strength and liberty we all hold dear. This does not mean we agree on all things, nor does it mean that we eliminate civil discourse; standing together means that we support the same rights, protections, and freedoms for all Americans, period. Because that is the bottom line – that is our commonality – we are Americans.
Do not buy into the rhetoric of those who seek to create division; do not embrace the “us”/”them” mentality; and do not add to the angst of division with indifference. Instead, stand together in protest when innocent people are killed; raise your voice to support the good, hardworking members of law enforcement working to protect communities across this country; and, recognize that we have a way to go to reach our more perfect union, but every positive step forward matters. Stand for the unity that is the cornerstone of this country and accept the responsibility that each American has to further that unity.
Another day in the new forty – obla di obla da