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If there is any positive that could come from the murders/executions of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, it’s that their deaths could be the potential spark to the discussion we must have about how we, in America, treat both our own citizens and how we must deal on the world stage with our international neighbors.

I say “potential spark” because it’s difficult to know if people are truly ready to have this discussion that has been postponed, fifty years since the Civil Rights Act, one hundred and fifty years since the Emancipation Proclamation.


Everybody who is a human being is a human being. No matter their gender, their race or ethnic background, their nationality, their religious or non religious beliefs, no matter their height, their weight, their sexual orientation or their experiences. Those of us who are humans are all made of the same stuff. This is unquestionable. This is undeniable. This is the truth.

The “those people aren’t like me” argument is a lie. But the reason behind why people are comfortable living with that lie is rooted in another untruth: “those people don’t experience life like me.”

Taking it all back to the Jim Crow era, we are talking about a whole segment of society that was not permitted to attend the same schools, live in the same neighborhoods, get the same jobs, and earn the same money as their white counterparts. This is where it all began. And that is what creates the differences within our own borders about who we are as Americans.

To put it another way, society is blaming this segment of the population for being victimized by the very people that wish to ignore them. “Look at those people. They’re poor. They don’t have jobs. They have the easy life of living off of the government. MY hard earned tax money.”

You know how, when there is a disaster of some sort, we send aid to the victims of that circumstance, with the Tsunamis in Japan and the Philippines, the hurricanes in Louisiana and New Jersey, some fairly recent examples. Well, this human created disaster not only received no aid, it was exacerbated by the ruling class, continuing to punish those people for being who they were. And just who were those people? American citizens who were instrumental in building this country, in creating inventions that we now take for granted, in helping support in every way possible.

Their reward wasn’t simply being dealt a bad hand. They were, in the history of the country, given more obstacles to negotiate than even sworn enemies of this nation had been!

There is still a fear, a distrust, a lack of compassion and understanding about humans. Why don’t humans understand humans? Is it just the refusal to believe the truth? Is it the fear of that reprisal for all of the hideous and horrible acts of the past? Or, is this just wanting to ignore these issues entirely and continue life as it is? Maintain the Status Quo.

The word is empathy: the ability to put yourself in the place of someone else and understand them. There’s a fair amount of sympathy, but not that much empathy, and no white person wants to empathize with a poor black person, and that makes it especially challenging when it comes to discussing this.

Here’s a thought. Each person, everybody here, in this country, and on this planet, has the ability to be a resource. We are here for each other. We are all each other’s teachers and students as we collectively move forward through time. Killing people destroys the resource, creates bad will, and continues to separate us as humans. Killing is exercising Ultimate Power, and if that is the goal, you aren’t going to get people to understand your side. There’s no negotiation when you’re dead and the mourners won’t want to have anything to do with you. The divisive element is all too clear.

I have previously stated that Barack Obama came along just in the nick of time for the United States economy. We had a near financial collapse (some would define it as a depression) just as he was entering the White House. But President Obama managed to lead the country through a very difficult fiscal period, and we avoided the worst of it. Wall Street is doing just fine these days. There is better news from Main Street as well. And all of that was because Barack didn’t get shot and killed when he was fresh out of high school.

How many Barack Obamas have we already lost? How many are we yet to lose? It doesn’t even need to be a bullet. Racism can prevent/has prevented interviews to get starting jobs, and careers can be blocked just by tossing away a resume, a document that might have saved a business, or helped it grow, or perhaps enriched our collective lives in other ways. We’re talking about Americans intentionally blocking Americans from success. How does that change the country, as the continuing intent on marginalizing those that have so little for the benefit of those that have so much more?

Garner and Brown have to be the kindling for this discussion. The time has come for us to take a breath and all collectively look at how we are treating each other. We have to use our empathy skills. We have to understand each other on that human level, and we have to make changes now. This isn’t going to wait another half century.

If we don’t do it, if we choose to continue to ignore this festering sore on the face of our society, then we’ll all know and understand, it was because people refused to release their hate and their falsehoods, and that they wanted to have even more pleasure and comfort at the expense of someone else’s basic survival.

P.S. The Ku Klux Klan were distributing pamphlets in The Hamptons this summer. There’s your kindling.

//

This thinkpost was created for LJ Idol using the prompt - "kindling."

Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
halfshellvenus
Aug. 26th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
Happy belated birthday! Have my special icon. :D

Their reward wasn’t simply being dealt a bad hand. They were, in the history of the country, given more obstacles to negotiate than even sworn enemies of this nation had been!
I really, really think this is something people tend to forget. We treated black people closer to criminals than to citizens for many years, and made it incredibly and unfairly hard for them to gain traction. The ripple effects of that continue.

The problem is that people want to deny the ripples. Some even want to deny that the initial events were even an issue. :(
penpusher
Aug. 27th, 2014 02:24 pm (UTC)
Extremely sad but very true. And thanks to you and Badtz Maru!
halfshellvenus
Aug. 27th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see you know Badtz! I love Badtz. :D I have an entire Prison break crack fanfiction story that features him. Because, why not?
penpusher
Aug. 28th, 2014 01:43 am (UTC)
Oh that looks so fun! I'm going to have to come back to that, as I haven't even started reading this weeks LJI entries yet.
halfshellvenus
Aug. 28th, 2014 01:44 am (UTC)
Yay! It's a pretty fast read, as most of it is pictures. :D
rayaso
Aug. 27th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
An excellent essay on an important topic. I loved the point you made about how many Obama's have we lost was great.
penpusher
Aug. 28th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
I doubled down on this similar topic from last week because I had more to say, and the prompt fit again.

I know that, as Americans, we need to start treating each other like we are all citizens in the same country. We really could get to a heaven like existence if we only decided that everyone was a friend and that we were here to help each other through life, rather than treat people like enemies and that we want to oppress or abuse others.

It's time to start. And thank you for your kind words and compliment.
uncawes
Aug. 27th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
It's not an issue unique to the US. It happens in other western countries too (don't get me started on Middle Eastern prejudices), but it's less visible. Maybe because the police in other countries tyr for non lethal means of resolving situations. Maybe for other reasons.
That's not to say it's not a big deal in the US. Just that it's not limited to one nation.
penpusher
Aug. 28th, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
Well, no. The USA doesn't have a monopoly on this sort of thing, however, we are the standard bearers in all of those "Americanisms," like "freedom," "liberty," and "pursuit of happiness," all of which holds the country up to a different level of criticism when we clearly aren't following our stated beliefs.

We are the ones that need to lead by example, and the examples we have shown the rest of the world have, to say the least, failed.

The fact that there are instance after instance of white police officers either stopping, arresting or maybe even shooting black suspects proves we still have a long way to go to truly be the place you see in your glossy brochure with the Bald Eagle and the pics of Mount Rushmore and Independence Hall.
eternal_ot
Aug. 29th, 2014 12:02 pm (UTC)
I like your thinkposts...I always end up taking back something with me...A very enriching read this one...Thanks for sharing your thoughts..and hope you had a great birthday..:) Belated best wishes.
penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:14 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for your wish and your comments!
adoptedwriter
Aug. 29th, 2014 05:21 pm (UTC)
Interesting in that I'm subbing in a seventh grade English class today, and they are reading a book with the theme about everyone being created equal. Perfect timing!
AW
penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:17 am (UTC)
Going back to school before Labor Day would have been sacrilege when I was a student!

But seriously, we know these truths to be self-evident. :)
dmousey
Aug. 31st, 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
This is a timely piece. I agree, people need to "walk a mile in each other's moccasins" as my pop used to say. My husband refuses to say he's an American anymore, he refers to himself and others as earthlings, because we're on this marble together.

Thank you for writing this. The US has fa-a-ar to go before racism and bias isn't inbred in the mind set. There are too many who still remember, endorsed and enforced, Jim Crow days.

It's nice to think that things might change faster now. It's a sad reflection on America's character that so many innocents had to die first, before we could even think about a conversation. Only time will tell if those deaths were in vain. Once again, Thank you for writing this piece.

:)

penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:35 am (UTC)
Yes... you've mentioned that your husband doesn't consider himself "American." But you know, everyone else does, and that certainly includes members of ISIL or ISIS depending on what abbreviations you use. You can't just divorce from your country, especially when you are still in it! If we are attacked, and reports say plans are seriously in the works for it, Americans are still residents of the United States, whether or not they consider themselves to be, and that's who groups like that will be going after. All of us!

Though I get the statement he's making, it really doesn't resolve the issues we need to work through in our collective psychology, and that work is the only way to get to a place where EVERYONE can call themselves "Earthlings" and have it mean something.

It's time for the people who care to step up, because the people who don't care about all the rest of humanity have gotten us to where we are. We need your husband and people like him to be American, and to help bring the country to the true elements of what it claims to represent, for all its citizens! Then, we can be an example of how life could/should be for the rest of the world, and help others make those same changes in their locations.

But thanks for your comments and your reflection on the circumstances as they are. I appreciate it.
dmousey
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely right! My husband wanted me to clarify that he has not renounced the USA, but as you said he wants to make a point. We try to be as active in the community as we have both grown up in 'mixed' poverty neighborhoods we understand a lot of the prejudices-in both directions- that arise. What stands out the most for him, and for me, that shows you grasp what's happening is your understanding that what is needed is empathy. It gives him hope that he is NOT alone in feeling this way. I don't count because I am his wife, LOL.

Hopefully the November elections will help us.
penpusher
Sep. 2nd, 2014 01:01 am (UTC)
There really is a lot to unpack for us to really get to some sort of level ground and true mutual understanding. But there has to be a firm grasp of what that really means, because this is going to be a painful process for everyone involved. It's like we broke our leg and it fused and set completely wrong, and we've been hobbling along all this time. Now, we're going to have to break that leg again so it can heal right, and that is going to be painful, but so worth it to everyone.

Police won't have to be so afraid of a citizen that they just want to shoot him. That's just one of the benefits ahead. And families won't lose their children.

I hope people are willing to come to the table and have this discussion, because, really, there are less and less ways of getting away with this kind of behavior for authority figures.

Here's hoping for getting this dialog started right and started well. With our national security being threatened, we have to come together as Americans, at the very least.
grail76
Sep. 1st, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
The only thing that makes Ferguson tolerable is the potential for the whole situation to force a change.

Nice piece.
penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:45 am (UTC)
Except I fear, knowing how short term memory works, Ferguson is already starting to be forgotten, especially by those it doesn't affect or impact (who are the ones that need to remember it).

Thanks.
grail76
Sep. 1st, 2014 01:15 pm (UTC)
This morning they announced that every officer in Ferguson will be wearing a camera.
In time every police dept. may get them via some sort of federal assistance.
penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:15 pm (UTC)
We'll see if any ill timed "tech malfunctions" occur during this program, I guess. But the real truth is that it's the mindset that needs to change, not just the equipment.
grail76
Sep. 2nd, 2014 12:33 am (UTC)
They've found in places where the police wear cameras, the number of confrontations drop by 60% and complaints dropped 88%.
penpusher
Sep. 2nd, 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
I understand that, but if the mindset changed, the number of confrontations and complaints would, perhaps, go away completely.
grail76
Sep. 2nd, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
Knowing there is a record may change the attitude over time.
whipchick
Sep. 1st, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
So true. And I wonder what it is that leads humans to subjugate other humans based on skin color? I just read an article in the New Yorker about Mauritania, the last country on earth to abolish slavery and they only criminalized owning slaves in 2007. They still have about 140,000 slaves. It's just bizarre to me how humans can treat other humans like that.
penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
The lies run deep and run convenient for those that are benefiting, but they don't even realize that everyone would benefit more from a little dose of Golden Rule. We could end war, end poverty, end all of the bad things in the world, just by helping each other, however we can. It's really that simple. And it's really that rewarding. And we wouldn't have to worry about attacks or reprisals. People Helping People. Even Conan O'Brien got the message, some 20 years ago!

favoritebean
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)
You know, I keep waiting for the discussion and actions to come. I keep hoping that something positive will come from horrific events like Brown's death, Trayvon Martin's death, the beatings of Rodney King back in the early 90s. And yet, the change in how humans treat each other still remains elusive.

Racism and oppression are still quite alive here in America, despite people begging to differ when Obama was elected to office. The fact that it is alive and well is disgusting to me and so many others, yet change never comes. I worry far more blood will be shed before we do see change.
penpusher
Sep. 1st, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
It is very true. This isn't going to happen passively. This will take a massive re-education program, that a lot of people will not want to be a part of, and it will take everyone who understands the value in treating all of our own citizens fairly and kindly that can help with it.

I hope, much like the presidency, those that have the power to oppress will voluntarily relinquish it in the name of what's right. If not, we might be in for a whole world of trouble, and I can't imagine what might occur if none of those police officers are even charged with crimes.

Thanks very much for your thoughts and for reading.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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