I have no words these days. And for a writer, that’s not a good state to be in. If I had to dig for words, and face these words head on, I can think of two: anger and uncertainty.
For the past few months, we’ve been living in an uncertain world. The pandemic left us all in a state of limbo and fear, with our worlds turned upside down.
Now, we have this terrible video of the death of George Floyd. And our nation seems to have erupted with anger. Yes, we should be angry and upset and disheartened that the actions of a few have now tarnished the entire police force. And there is anger over racism that should have long been eradicated in this country. There are some serious and very difficult issues to face with our nation, and that feeds into our anger and into our uncertainty.
The media is continually showing us the worst side of the protests, which turned into rioting and looting. Rioting is not protesting. Looting doesn’t belong in this equation. Violence, especially started by outside, not local, paid organizations, is criminal.
Protesting for a change of attitude, to fight for needed changes of behavior and change of heart and professionalism are warranted.
Now, I’m a Caucasian Christian woman who lives in the suburbs of a major American city. And because of that, I feel like there are no words I could say that would not be misunderstood, or that would make matters worse. I’ve already seen a blanket condemnation of caucasians, that we don’t understand. And that’s true. But that doesn’t mean I’m not compassionate, or feeling, or sick to my stomach at what’s happening in the world.
We shouldn’t condemn the entire police force with a single brush, or think that all people of color are criminals, or that all white people are privileged.
Right now, I’m angry, hurt, fearful and uncertain. As a Christian, I turn to my faith and prayer. As an American, I’m not sure what other action to take, but don’t take my temporary inaction as not caring. I want to take helpful steps, not fuel the fires of anger and hate. I will be cautious.
Finally, I’m the proud daughter of a military officer. I’m a supporter of the police (NOT the bad apples), but the police men and women who care about the citizens of their cities. Anyone who condemns the police in general, needs to go on a ride along with them on one of their shifts. I’m not sure they do ride-alongs anymore, but I was able to go on one for a college paper. And it changed my world forever. That was many years ago, so I can’t imagine what the police face today.
I guess I’m saying there needs to be respect, on all sides of the table. There needs to be forgiveness. If you can’t forgive the four former police officers in Minneapolis, then forgive the rest of the police force, no matter where you live. Don’t taint them all with the same brush. Just like you don’t like being tainted with the same false brush.
The media needs to show more and more of the positive things that are happening. People of the United States of America, no matter what skin color, need to unite for change. Respect where we come from, what our points of view are, then find the common ground. I bet there’s more common ground than we realize.
It’s funny, right now, I’m thinking of something my dad always says. A lot of folks are interested in tracing their ancestry, where they come from. My dad doesn’t understand that. He keeps it simple and says, “I’m American. I was born here. This is where I come from.”
If you are a citizen of these great United States, you are an American. We need to find a way to be united. We need to find a way to have differing opinions, but not condemn others for having a differing opinion. We can learn from each other by listening to each other.
So, besides the words anger and uncertainty, maybe the greater word we need to remember right now is LISTEN. Let’s listen to ALL sides. Let’s learn from each other. The continuing anger won’t solve anything. We’re all heartbroken over the death of George Floyd. So, there’s common ground right there. We’re all outraged. But now, let’s come together to fight the systemic issue of racism. We can respect each other’s backgrounds and cultures, and celebrate those. But we also need to remember, we’re citizens of the same country. We need to prove that we are what our name says: United States. We need to be a united people.
The division among us doesn’t solve problems. Maybe listening to each other, with the attitude of respect and the expectation of learning from each other will help us unite for a better America.