Stuff happens

Plainly seeable even in shadow, if we look.Events of the past few months have been weighing heavily on many of us, I fear. The pandemic some of us knew was coming has kept us cooped up in our homes, if for no other reason than most places we would like to go – places we would meet for breakfast, parks where we would jog and picnic, or cubicles where we would work – have been closed.

And then, seemingly to cap our frustration, a police officer, sworn to protect and serve, appeared to have murdered a black man during an arrest the purpose of which still is a mite hazy.

Our police come from our communities. They are our neighbors and were our schoolmates and they were raised in the same congregations where they later protect and serve. Most of those who know that officer, and the other three officers involved in the killing, were not greatly surprised.

Some of us hoped that when we elected our first African-American president, we were done with that racism thing. We pretended, in spite of indication to the contrary, that it was in our past.

Then 22-year-old Dylan Roof in 2015, in joined a Bible study gathered in a Charleston, SC, church, and murdered nine black Bible students who had welcomed him into their group. People who knew him – friends, family, neighbors – did not approve of the killing, but they let it happen.

I do not know what it is about us humans that those of us in power so often think we are better than those who are not. Those from our neighborhood, our town, or our nation, somehow are better than the folks “from away.”

I remember when We The People thought other countries were despotic for turning fire hoses against their protesting citizens. We strongly criticized nations in which the Upper Class devalued their Lower Class.

But we let it happen.

I remember when We The People thought our own government was, at best, unreasonable for turning fire truck-mounted water cannon on our own protesting citizens.

But we let it happen.

I remember we were saddened and angered in 1970 when young National Guardsmen opened fire, killing four and wounding nine students their own age at Kent State University.

But we let it happen.

I remember when some of the men and women our Constitution had declared to have been created equal were set upon with dogs and clubs in 1965 for having the gall to march across a bridge named for Edmund Pettus – a lawyer, a judge, a brigadier general, a U.S. senator and the head of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.

I remember the Watts riots in 1965 in California (If you don’t, ask your grandparents), and I’ve watched as we have equipped our police departments with battle green military personnel carriers and other assault accoutrements.

And we let it happen.

We support freedom and justice for all, while a large segment of our citizens languish in jail for crimes we have made legal and enriching for captains of the new industry.

Is it only in my mind that when there is a protest, those in power can be heard telling those with the grievance to “stay in your lane,” “watch your language” and “obey the law.”

And when the protesters “calm down,” those in control go back to their chores rather than deal with the problem.

To paraphrase former President John F. Kennedy, if we do not respond to peaceful grievance, the need for attention will demand violent rebellion.

We’re still beating the tar out of citizens on the Edmund Pettus bridge.

Stuff happens – usually because we make it so.

Thanks for taking me along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share. Please click the “Share” button to share it on social media, or copy the URL and send it to friends and acquaintances you think might appreciate it.

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