Everyone has read the headlines or seen the stories on the news. Police kill an unarmed person under suspicious circumstances, and mayhem ensues. Sometimes just the name of the deceased with the place the shooting happened are all you need to bring the memory back. Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri. Eric Garner, Staten Island, NYC, New York. Walter Scott, North Charleston, South Carolina. Stephon Clark, Sacramento, California. Danny Ray Thomas, Houston, Texas. We’ve heard all of those stories. All are horrible stories, in which unarmed people, all of color, were shot and killed by police. Lives of worth and promise, taken without reason.
But what if I said Rogelio Santander, Dallas, Texas? Aubrey Hawkins, Irving, Texas? Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, Westerville, Ohio? Michael Johnson, San Jose California? Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald, and Montrell Jackson, Baton Route, Louisiana? Or Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa, Dallas, Texas? All are equally worthy and promising lives, and all horrible stories. But these were all Police Officers that were indiscriminately slaughtered by criminals, and in the case of the last five in Dallas by a terrorist, in the last few years.
We can get into the “one begat the other” argument, with which I vehemently disagree. I don’t think police officers start their shift thinking “I’m gonna go kill somebody today!” but there have been times when a police officer clearly freaks out and kills someone because of fear, prejudice, or something else. And there is no question that there are criminals who have no problems killing a police officer, or anyone else, to try and get away with their crimes (and to extract revenge, perhaps?). And ANY situation that ends in a loss of life is an affront to the gift we have that IS life.
It worries me, and as the father of an officer I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it. But the reality of this is going to sound stupid (surprise!) but it came to me while I was watching the movie “Ghost” on the tv in the background. Remember when Oda Mae tells Molly “Molly, you in trouble, girl!”
Well, America, we in trouble, girl.
Respect for each other has disappeared. Rage is at an all-time high. Shootings of ALL kinds are at unheard-of levels (want to feel ashamed? Look at the numbers of deaths by shooting in America vs the rest of the “first world” and then tell me again how we’re so wonderful!). People are scared of the police. Police are scared of the people. Conflict between EVERYONE is at an all-time high. Well, the highest levels of conflict since the 1860’s, anyway, and we all know how much fun the Civil War was for the country.
The roots are socio-economic, racial, and now we have a religious aspect coming back into it. I refuse to be live in fear, but I’m also not an ostrich—my head is NOT buried in the sand, nor am I a Pollyanna. But the way things are simply can’t sustain.
So how do we get out of, and through, this?
Only one way. Together. We have to find a way to understand each other, defuse the conflict, and regain some civility! Parents have to parent, preferably together, but always from love yet with strength. Neighborhoods need to partner with police to eliminate drug and gang crap. Police need to better monitor their officers for alarming behavior and take action before something bad happens. (A bad cop on the force is not better than a vacancy, folks.) And something—SOMETHING—has to occur to disarm the whole situation.
Kennedy tried. Dr. King tried. Lyndon tried. (We call him Lyndon in Texas.) Barack tried. There is still tremendous goodness in this great nation, and there remains hope. We have to nurture both. So I’m going to show the success, and the fails here. And we all have to hope, together, that somehow we can all get our collective poopoo together and depressurize this nation, and turn this shit show around. Otherwise, we don’t need Kim Jung Fatass, Putin, Isis, or anyone else to blow us up. We’ll do it ourselves.
By looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly of law enforcement—and there is far more good than I think ever gets press—we may figure this out. And we can solve this, ourselves. I’ll be posting on this as I get material which is pretty much all the time. So join me—let’s figure this out, together. I hope you go on this journey with me. I have no problems with different ideas—as long as they are IDEAS. Great things can happen when the minds meet and hate is kept at bay!
Hoping for good things,