Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions.
That’s the tagline for Views from Eagle Peak. It’s a little long, but it’s what it is.
George Floyd. Cops. Minneapolis and more. Protests–peaceful and violent. Us and them. Self-identity–race, sex, job, age and much more. Attitudes and beliefs. Norms and Values. Hate.
We’re all human. That’s the race I put on those forms that ask for it. You can see from my profile picture I’m White. My wife of nearly 40 years is African-American. Her father wanted to kill us if we got married. Later he just said, “call me Dad.” That’s because, in the words of Daisaku Ikeda,
A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.
I prayed for his happiness and accepted responsibility for his attitude toward me–expecting to change myself and thus his perspective. Those things happened.
Blacks are seven times more likely to be killed by police gunfire than Whites are. I don’t have statistics for death by other police behavior. When charged (rarely) and tried (more rare), few cops are convicted in the death of Blacks.
Racism is learned, not something people are born with. But, when growing up in whatever family and community one lives in, beliefs gradually accumulate.
People may identify by their occupation, sexual orientation, political party and more–along with race. But, they are all still human.
There are Black cops, White cops, Asian-American cops and Hispanic cops. Do they identify as cops or as their racial or ethnic group? Depends, don’t you think? Off-duty or on.
All kinds of people have attitudes. The ones who cut in line, tailgate, etc.–because they’re more important than you or their time is more valuable than yours. Or because you’re poor or another race, etc.
Are you afraid of cops? They may be afraid of you as well–like when they make a traffic stop, not knowing whether you have gun in the car or not. Some of them acquire an attitude, of power that they must project to keep you and their own fear at bay. Others, simply have an attitude that comes of having power. White, I have still seen the attitude at times. Other cops are courteous–despite the power they could wield.
People are still individuals, despite their job, their race or . . . just like other species. A Dove chases a Jay–unusual. Finches and Grosbeaks talk to one another and interact peacefully at the feeder. But some of either type of bird can be feisty with their own kind. A chipmunk chases a bird–probably for fun.
Yes, it’s wise–to a point, to make some assumptions about people not like you. But be careful you don’t take the Us and Them prescription too far–listen to Pink Floyd’s song and read the lyrics.
George Floyd’s death was murder–a casual and careless act, if not intentional. It’s happened before in America. Protest is sensible, it’s reasonable, it’s necessary. It’s better to do so peacefully than violently. But is either effective at creating change? I think it may have been in the Sixties when the various Civil Rights laws were passed. Not so sure the many antiwar protests I participated in brought an end to the Vietnam War in the Seventies.
It’s easy enough to respond to violence with violence. I’ve been there, at a bridge blockaded by fellow college students in 1972 Mankato, Minnesota. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article describing my own behavior and results.
I didn’t see the blockade as a sensible option, so I stood off to the side. Seeing a student staggering with a head bloodied by a baton, I picked up and threw a rock, striking a trooper in the groin. My visceral reaction immediately shocked me. The following day, I spoke out strongly against another blockade, persuading a couple hundred students to peacefully march instead.
Racism isn’t new–here in America or around the World. Hate isn’t new either. How many centuries did White Protestants and Catholics fight over religion (and more) in Northern Ireland? Consider Africa and the Middle East–not just racial hatred and not just religious either. OK, let’s have a blast from the musical past, Frank Zappa’s “Trouble Every Day.”
Rallies and protests are cathartic, but more is needed. Laws help–when enforced. It’s beliefs, attitudes, norms, values that must change if behavior is to change. I will end with more words from Daisaku Ikeda.
“There is no other solution to the problem of racial discrimination than realizing the human revolution in each individual. …”
“… In other words, an inner reformation in the depths of people’s lives to transform the egoism that justifies the subjugation of others and replace it with a humanism that strives for coexistence among all peoples.