I don’t claim to have an objective view of what happened between Officer Wilson and Michael Brown – and face it, neither do you. Most of us hear the same facts, but we come to wildly different conclusions. Of course we do. When confronted with a skeleton of truth, but with no complete story, we all fill in the gaps with what we want to believe. We don’t even do this consciously, we just blindly spackle over those gaps using the sum memories of our existence.
If we’ve had bad experiences with the police, well of course Darren Wilson used too much force. Nobody puts that many bullets into someone unless they’ve completely lost control.
If we see the police as allies in the smooth functioning of society, well of course Michael Brown was a hooligan thug who robbed a store, attacked a police officer, and clearly deserved what he got.
I believe we will never know the truth of what happened that night.
Even so, we can use the experience of watching a city burn (literally) from anger and frustration,
the knowledge that we know so little about the facts,
and the experience of seeing our friends wildly differ on what is right and wrong,
the knowledge that we know almost nothing about what really happened that night…
and do our best to not let it happen to anyone we know.
Most Americans live in a world where they daily encounter people who need help. People who need a push in the right direction. People who are frustrated, scared, angry, and many of them aren’t aware enough of why they are that way. More importantly, most of us aren’t aware of why we are that way ourselves. Remember that you don’t have the answers. I don’t have the answers. That jackass on facebook, Fox News, or CNN doesn’t have the answers. What we do have the answer to is what happens as the result of our own actions.
Be nice because you’re not as perfect as you think you are and at some point, sometime, someone rolled their eyes because of what a nitwit you are.
Be nice, and help those people. Don’t turn away and don’t yell back. Try patience. Maybe if Michael Brown had experienced just a little less pain and frustration he wouldn’t have put himself in harm’s way. Maybe if Darren Wilson had experience just a little less fear and anger he would have aimed lower or not pulled the trigger. Maybe not… but just maybe.
And if you think this leaping to conclusions or actions based on our own prejudices and fears is a modern problem (what with twitter, and the 24 hour news cycle, and… blogs) it’s not. These words were spoken by a beatnik Jew some 2000 years ago:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
So let the people of Ferguson heal their wounds. Let your friends rant on facebook, or twitter, or whatever floats their boat. You don’t have to be a part of that. What you really have to do is just make your world a little better by making you a little better. It’s not as hard as all that and it’s much more rewarding than shaking your impotent fist in rage.
I should know – I spend far more time railing against The Man than I do helping my fellow man.
Bad plank! Bad!