Today there is outrage. The live stream has been posted all over the internet. I have not watched it. I don't think watching it makes you a better person nor does it prove you care. It is part of the narrative and important, but I've heard the important details and don't need to witness more violence. That's why any link to the video will be excluded from this post.
This isn't the first time this has happened. I can't imagine it will be the last. It's outrageous.
There will be protesting in Minnesota today. Chants will ring out declaring that there should be justice for Philando. That officers need to change and that black lives matter. There needs to be justice in this case. The officer murdered Philando.
I'm convinced that justice and accountability won't lead to change.
Black lives do matter. I doubt that if you would have asked the young cop who shot Philando last night he would have said anything else, nor would he argue today.
Then why did a white cop shoot a black man at a traffic stop?
The answer is simple: he was afraid.
Yoda said it best. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate, and hate leads to suffering.
And we can see how fast that progression can develop. It can happen in the span of a simple traffic stop with enough fear.
The young cop was afraid of what he didn't know and instead of understanding, operated on assumptions and reacted to these with a primal me-or-you decision and action.
And that's how he was trained. When a police officer feels threatened, he or she can use force.
Then you place the cop in an environment where there's tension between who he represents - white cops - and the black community. Each fears the other deeply. It's an environment where there's very little understanding between the two communities and situations escalate quickly. It's why this will happen again.
We need the black lives matter protests. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. What the protestors need is to encourage understanding above justice. People are mad - rightly so. The justice system will do its work and there's very little we can do at this point to sway it. What we need to focus on is making sure the next black man who is pulled over for a traffic violation is not shot dead. We need understanding. We need love.
But things don't stop at the violence from cops against black men. That's a tragedy, but it's a symptom of a much larger, broken system. We live in a violent, dog-eat-dog society. The only way I make it up the ladder of success is by ensuring there are more people below me. Capitalism is driven by greed and valuing the self above all others. As Edward Snowden pointed out that politics is "the art of convincing decent people to forget that the lesser of two evils is still evil." And that has never been more true than in 2016.
I'm going to talk about politicians here for a moment. These are our leaders. They are who we elect re represent us. We trust them with our voice. More and more, government officials have been practicing discourse and avoiding compromise. Recently, they have aggressively reinforced a false dichotomy where one way of thinking is correct and every other way is wrong. Instead of understanding and listening, we are getting shouting and stubborn behavior. Now we have a soon-to-be-leader of one of our major political parties clearly justifying and promoting hate and fear. We need to examine how we got to this point and get back to a state of existence where we can understand and appreciate differences and use those to create compromise into policy to ensure we have the best future for everyone.
We need to change things. It's a fundamental change that needs to happen within every one of us. You and I need to love everyone. You and I must push for an understanding of the things we currently don't understand. We need to practice non-violence. You and I need to work toward a new baseline of equality for everyone. We need to listen more. We need to spend more time embracing and focusing on the needs of others rather than the progressions of ourselves. We need to realize that what we do in this life echoes in eternity. My actions affect you, and yours, me. We are all in the same boat, and we'll sail or sink as a crew.
It is through love and understanding that we can achieve peace. Right now there's not a lot of either, and people are suffering everywhere. Go out. Get to know people you don't. Practice approaching new situations with an open mind, ready to love the variety. Challenge your grandfather's views. If you're stuck not knowing what to do in the wake of violence, this is a good place to start.
It's a lot to ask, but we need to do these things: Trust others. Seek love. Seek understanding. Seek peace.
I love you. Thanks for reading.