All life matters
There is a lot of violence in the world. Lately, the violence targeting black people and police officers has taken everyone’s attention. Taken that attention away from even the mass killings in Nice, Orlando, Munich, Dhaka, and elsewhere around the world. We only see what the news shows us, feel based on our closeness to the people involved, and gradually forget that anything tragic happened as we live out our busy lives. Yes, there are some people that make it their mission to help end violence and suffering in the world. These people are a minority. I would like to think I am a part of this minority. I am actively trying to extinguish fear in my life and cultivate love in its place. That’s the most important thing anyone can do in my opinion. As within, so without.
To all those wondering why all this violence occurs, it isn’t very difficult to comprehend. Fear. That’s all it is. Fear. People live from a place of fear. Fear. Most people, the majority of the time, let fear drive their decisions both on a conscious and subconscious level. Unless you are consciously acting from a place of love, you are acting out of fear. In actuality, I don’t know, but fear seems like a pretty good explanation for all of this. I believe there are two base states. Fear and love. In electricity there is positive and negative, in sexual energy there is masculine and feminine, and in human existence there is fear and love.
Now, why is fear the predominate state? I could throw some of my hypotheses out there, though I’d be lying if I said I felt confident in any of them. Our sense of a separate self, our ego, does seem to have a hand in it, though. If we felt the timeless connection we have with all other life, through our being, we would live from a place of love. In the aftermath of the killings in Dallas, TX, a man named Kellon Nixon was interviewed by MSNBC. Here’s a link to an article with the video: Kellon Nixon Interview. A few minutes into it, he mentions how he’s recovering spiritually, how he had a ‘me against the world’ mentality in the hours after the shooting. This attitude will destroy us. Mr. Nixon reminds us that, “we’re all one race at the end of the day,”. When are we going to start acting like it? Being a Christian pastor, Mr. Nixon has strong religious beliefs, and though I may not share them with him, his words about what God has given us still touched my heart. He mentions how God hasn’t given us a “spirit of fear”, but instead has given us the “power of love” and that power conquers all. Violence, hate, and racism will only end if we use the power of love.
I find it hard to maintain a state of love when watching the videos of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Have you seen them? I can barely describe the feeling. Something like a weakness mixed with disgust. My insides get tight. I’m almost unable to watch. I mean c’mon, this dude Mr. Castile is lying in his car in agony, blood drenching his shirt, while a cop yells into the car, gun still pointed on him. Where is the humanity? His girlfriend has to sit and watch him die or else she’ll get shot. The police officer keeps shouting, “keep your hands where they are!”, gun pointed steadily at the dead victim. My body shakes with my desire to jump into the video and do anything I can to stop the bleeding, resuscitate the man, and calm the officer down. Diamond Reynolds, the woman shooting the video, deserves a Purple Heart for how calm she remained as she watched her boyfriend’s last moments, unable to do anything for the man she loved. How is this possible? How is there not more outrage? How can people go about their boring, routine, cookie-cutter lives, with these horrible injustices happening all the frickin’ time? Seems like we’re all under some evil magic spell.
Another week, another innocent black man shot. On July 21st, Charles Kinsey was trying to comfort an autistic patient when a police officer shot his legs. Literally, these stories keep getting more and more egregious! Read about it here: Charles Kinsey Shooting. For goodness sake, the man had his hands up and explicitly told the police what he was doing. Apparently, the police union has said that the police were trying to shoot the autistic person because they thought the toy truck in his hand was a weapon. What has the world come to when people with mental disabilities are swarmed by trigger happy SWAT teams with assault rifles? It is completely beyond my comprehension. I don’t understand why an officer couldn’t have just put his weapons down and walked into the scene, examined the situation with a calm mind and peaceful intent. I guess we all can’t be spiritual warriors, can we? To make matters worse, Mr. Kinsey asked the officer why he shot him and the officer told him, “I don’t know,”. That’s the definition of senseless violence. Then, after Mr. Kinsey gets shot, the police handcuff him and leave him lying on the ground for about 20 minutes. Again, where is the humanity? Where is the compassion? Why is it okay to leave a wounded man on the ground like that? I wish someone could explain this to me.
In the past few weeks, I have had conversations with people I know about these violent events and about racism. Sometimes there wasn’t much of a conversation. The other person told me, “I try not to think about this stuff,” and that proceeded to kill any open dialogue we could possibly have about it. Other times, my white privilege was attacked and I felt I was being treated in a condescending way because of it. Side note: white privilege is something I’m still trying to understand, accept, and harness it in an attempt to change the systems that propagate it. Don’t get me wrong, I think someone shedding light on my ignorance and schooling me on my white privilege is an exceedingly positive occurrence. Lord knows we all need more light in our lives, even if it is a bit harsh and painful to the eyes. We can squint until we adjust :). Between my attempts to understand through conversations with the people around me, reading facebook posts (both subjective emotional bursts and well-thought-out prose), and surfing the web, I feel like I know all about these topics except how to actually create absolute changes that will prevent these tragedies.
I came across this article that provides tangible action steps after a facebook friend posted about it: What you can do right now about police brutality. It talks about how showing empathy is far from enough. The actionable steps mentioned include:
- Educate yourself on your city’s police conduct review process.
- Pressure your mayor and city council to address gaps in this process.
- Vote for reform-minded city government.
- Write to your representatives.
- Know your right to record police encounters.
- Support legal defense funds and activism groups.
I haven’t done any of these steps. Perhaps I’m part of the problem. I’m going to do three of these things before I post next. Small steps lead to big places.
Finally, the all lives matter vs. black lives matter debate, which really isn’t a debate anymore. Saying ‘All Lives Matter’ to the exclusion of ‘Black Lives Matter’, creates more issues than it fixes. Yes, all lives do matter. In this country, all lives haven’t mattered. Black lives haven’t mattered as much as white lives. Poor lives haven’t mattered as much as rich lives. Every life matters, however, in order to emphasize the extent to which black lives haven’t mattered and drive change to make all lives matter, we must say ‘Black Lives Matter’. Maybe one day we will be able to say ‘All Lives Matter’ without feeling like we’re lying to ourselves. We’ll do that with the power of love 🙂
All lives matter. Black lives matter. My white male privilege as benefited me more than I will probably ever acknowledge. I still stand by my beliefs about fear and love. Little by little, each and every day, let’s reduce the fear that grips us and replace it with the abundance of love. I’ll do my part and I’ll try to help others do their part as well. All life matters <3.