It seems over the past year that here in the U.S. we are experiencing more disturbing moments that wonderful moments. I wonder if that’s a function of the need to push fear and outrage to the masses. It leaves no room for thoughtful reflection, only for spontaneous and unexamined outbursts against whatever slight we perceive affects us.
So many examples, from all the police shootings of unarmed citizens (mostly African American – at least from a publicized perspective), to the random violence in movie theaters and other public places. Makes one want to hole up in their house, order in, and bunker down.
But this won’t solve anything. It will only enslave you to paranoia. It will paralyze you, killing any action you might have taken.
When I reflected on the events with an attempt to be non-judgmental and objective, I keep returning to the same two-fold theme. That is, one, regarding the noise and wailing of police brutality and racism, that there is some level of over-response taken on the part of authority, I don’t know how many incidents involved white people – they don’t seem to be reported. But of the ones reported, there seems to be an escalation of violence that may not be warranted.
However, on the other hand, when reviewing the analysis of the incident (which itself may be biased), it appears that the victims are not entirely blameless. Their actions appear to be aggressive, or otherwise inciting in a way that most people who know them wouldn’t expect. Why is this? My guess is when they were around friends they were friendly and outgoing, fun and peaceful. When confronted with authority, they reacted in an alpha manner, challenging that authority.
Perception is the Heart of Action
Why this difference in behavior in different situations? I think it comes from how one perceives the people he or she is dealing with, and that perception guides their actions. Take, for example, the recent Ferguson activity (Aug 2015), where demonstrators were involved with a person attempting to drive past them or through them.
One headline said the activists were arrested when someone plowed into them with their car. How inciting is that? And biased? And wrong. If I plowed into someone with my car, there’s no way they were going to be able to do anything more than pick themselves up off the ground (if their legs weren’t broken), or less (if I had killed them). Instead, they kicked the car (implying no plowing but possibly gently nudging them to move).
It made me wonder how poorly cars were made these days if kicking one could inflict $5000 worth of damage. On an old car it would have just gotten you a bruised or broken toe. But besides that, it appears that too quickly we take sides, and the rule of law (at least in the courtroom) goes out the window. That is, you’re no longer innocent until proven guilty, you’re guilty by committee without any way to present your side where the other side will listen.
No One is Listening
No one is listening anymore. From a quote I recently read, they are listening to say what they want to say, not listening to hear what the other is saying. And this goes further, into politics as well. But I won’t go into that!
All it takes is to listen with an open mind, understand the other person, before responding. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, only that you understand what their position is, and where it comes from. And that could, in many cases, mean that you realize you will not be able to reason with them (when they spout obvious lies), and it might be better to just walk away.