TL;DR I hate editorializing. I hate conflict. We’re in the middle of what was supposed to be a reboot of Agents of Game. Yet there are bigger things out there than an obscure website run by nerds. Further, I trust that you have a desire to be better than you currently are, even if it means painfully admitting that you can do better. And that you desire our nation to be better than it currently is, even if it means painfully admitting that there might be a few real and legitimate issues. Yes, the problems are complex. With that in mind, maybe we should all dispense with the quippy remarks and the “gotcha” memes. Black lives *should* matter. And no, all lives can’t matter until black lives do. So even if you aren’t willing to be part of the solution, at least let’s stop contributing to the problem. But we’re strong enough, and smart enough, and decent enough that we can resolve these problems, or at least make significant and meaningful improvements.
I’m nobody of consequence, and I recognize that. But if you’re reading this, then that means my voice has at least some reach, and as long as my voice has reach, I have a responsibility to use it. Truth is complex. Truth is messy. But truth exists, and as long as that is the case, we’d all be better off if we strive for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Why? Because, despite a recent quote I heard last night that “Facts don’t lie!” the man using the quote was absolutely twisting them to tell a whopper. We’ll get to that later.
Our nation is burning. While that’s mostly figurative, there are certainly places where it’s absolutely literal. And if the Covid-19 pandemic weren’t enough (both to exist, and to have become a partisan issue, as absurd as that sounds), we’re in the middle of protests and counter protests, both in-person and online, bad-faith actors infiltrating the protests to cause problems, riots, police brutality, the militarization of police, and so much more. And yes, there are white supremacists infiltrating the riots. There is plenty of evidence to that, and it should be undeniable. Does admitting that mean that white supremacists lit every match and threw every brick? Absolutely not. The truth is complex, and I’m confident that you’re smart enough to understand that. I’m hoping that you’re honest enough to accept that as well.
While there are some riots, there are also peaceful protests. Do your posts acknowledge that? While most police officers have been decent during these events, clearly some have been the aggressors. There is ample evidence of numerous (hopefully limited) incidents where police walk up to a child, and pepper spray them point-blank in the face. As a truck of police drive off, one shoots a random camera holder for sport. For some of them, it’s about race. For many of them, it’s also about authority. If you challenge their authority, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, old, young, or anything else. You’ll get the baton or the boot, the pepper spray or the rubber bullets. There are too many examples for me to list. And while I’m all about citing sources, and I’m planning on creating a separate article full of resources, that’s not the point of this. We live in an age where information is readily available, and if it’s really the case that someone reading this isn’t aware of the numerous instances of police brutality from the last few days alone, then that’s indicative of another severe problem. But that’s also not the point.
Yes, not all cops are bad. The phrase used by many defenders of police is that it’s only a few bad apples. Fine. But what’s the other phrase about bad apples? One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Now there are absolutely some cases where we shouldn’t define all groups by a single actor, or a few actors. In fact, we shouldn’t initially even do that with police. Note the word initially. The police have to have the opportunity to respond. And they have. Historically, and with rare variation (though I am eternally grateful there is some variation), the response is generally to circle the wagons to protect the bad apples, rather than casting them out of the barrel. Again, there are mounds of evidence of this. Not merely a refusal to investigate, fire, or charge bad officers, but ample evidence of many police departments destroying evidence, fabricating evidence, and much, much worse. Again, I intend to create a separate document with ample amounts of citation, yet there is literally no valid reason why anyone should be ignorant of this and unwilling to educate themselves. But I digress.
This is a case where we must demand accountability and near-perfection of those who wield power, and those we are supposed to trust to execute the law fairly and justly. Whether it’s politicians, police, doctors, or anyone else who holds tremendous power, and especially the powers that influence life and liberty, they must be held to a higher standard, and those who are not competent to wield that power safely and for the benefit of society, that power must be stripped from them.
How on earth do we expect entire portions of the population to witness and experience police abuse of power and have confidence in the police? How many ways can we expect them to beg for their lives and livelihoods, and be ignored every time, and keep sucking it up? And before any of you invoke Martin Luther King Jr’s anti-violence statements (which are wonderful and deserve to be read and adhered to), have you ever explicitly stood up for the powerless? Did you think to say that black lives matter before you said “You’re protesting wrong.” Have you ever even read a word that the man wrote or said that wasn’t fed to you by a meme? Two bits of homework: read (or reread) his Letter from Birmingham Jail. Then read or watch his speech, The Other America. And, if you’re the praying type, then perhaps say a prayer before you start. Say a prayer that your heart will be open. That you will have compassion for your brothers and sisters. And that you can be a part of the solution.
And before anyone responds “what about the white people who are mistreated?” bringing up any other group or situation where injustice occurs, how does that make anything better? Does police abuse of white people make it alright that they abuse black people? Does the fact that some white people are underpaid and overworked make it alright for black people to be systemically underpaid or denied employment? No. Those examples are merely evidence that there do, in fact, exist problems to deal with, and rather than avoid the issue, or worse, defend the problem, we need to address the problems. Wouldn’t it be far better to acknowledge and resolve a problem than bury our heads in the sand? Can you realistically name a problem that would be made better by ignoring it than addressing it?
Yes, it is painful to admit problems exist within things we love. Whether it’s the nation we love, our family, our community, or ourselves. But if we insist that the things we love are perfect, then we abandon any chance of making the things we love better. And if we’re not improving the things we love, then we’re condemning them to mediocrity at best. If you truly love America, wouldn’t you want, more than anything, for her to improve? If you love your family, wouldn’t you want to be the best version of yourself for them? If you love your community, wouldn’t you want to make it thrive? Then less us stop ignoring problems, and let us rise together to deal with them.
Am I oversimplifying things, despite condemning the oversimplification of things? Absolutely. Does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t deny that yes, I am likely a hypocrite. Writing this is not why I am a hypocrite. If I err, it is not in doing too much, but doing too little. In speaking too rarely, rather than speaking too often. I recognize that few people will read this, and in our modern, fast-paced society, people have limited attention spans. Further, people don’t like to be challenged, contradicted, or told they have a need to improve. But I have a need to improve. And if I’m wrong about something, as painful as it may feel, I’d like to know about it so I can fix it. I’m trusting that each of you reading this has a similar desire. And even if some people reading this have no desire to do better, I still have a responsibility to do the best I can with the limited faculties I have. I owe it to the truth. I owe it to my family. I owe it to my nation. And, most importantly, I owe it to my God.