These are certainly dark times, full of fury from people who have waited too long for the nation’s promise to be delivered, full of anger from people who have never understood that obligation, full of ignorance from people who see in this disaster only an opportunity, to rage, to loot, to unleash whatever fury has been pent up during this season of defining flu.
If it is true that it is always darkest before the dawn, then it’s time now to look toward that next sunrise and see what can be made of it. We could well fester in the mess that is piling up all around us, or we could turn in another direction, embrace the eternal message of love buried too deeply in our hearts, and determine to do much, much better.
It never surprises me when things get completely out of hand in America.
I have seen that happen in other countries, too. It always has something to do with frustration and the hopelessness of economics that just will not yield to human need. Does it surprise you that police become so aggressive when they are confronted by crowds carrying such bitterness. It doesn’t surprise me at all. They are probably as frightened as anyone else. But they are armed with weapons and the authority of the state, which has sent them into the streets to try to maintain order. When confronted by disorder, they have permission to react. And that is what happens.
Is that a bad thing? Is that a good thing?
I don’t know.
I just know it’s a thing that doesn’t happen when our better angels are speaking to us. Where are they now? I think you have to look for them, but they are still there. You see them in the police officers who kneel with the protesters, or who offer prayers for safety when confronted by angry crowds. Maybe you see them, too, when you see someone hesitates just before action we might all come to regret.
I am confused about why so many instances of civil disturbance lead to looting and destruction of businesses along the street. What is the point of that? Whose loss are you mourning when you break into a Best Buy and walk out with a flat screen TV, or when you break into a jewelry store and walk out with an arm full of gold chains? Whose memory is honored by that kind of behavior?
Or are we simply so out of control that when an opportunity presents itself, we just take it?
That being the case, it’s not surprising that police on the street react so strongly. They have come to protect and serve, and sometimes that means serving up aggressive and violent responses to threatening or criminal behavior.
Make no mistake about it. Breaking a window and stealing merchandise is not a justified response to racism or anything else.
It’s just a crime.
We have the capacity in ourselves to react differently, but we have to make the choice to do that. It won’t come on its own. People are not all bad and not all good. They make the choice in situations that present options.
Opt for a kinder, better response.