(More of a diary than a dialogue.)
I am (mostly) conscious of my inherent privilege. There are doors that open for me that will barely budge for others. I am allowed to make a serious amount of mistakes before paying a price, while others are not provided that same leniency. It’s systematic, it’s cultural, it’s tightly woven into some fabrics. At the global scale, there are places where people will outright kill each other in a lost war of hundreds of years. No reason other than “it’s always been this way”.
I make no excuses for this. I have no ability to be articulate on the specific issues at hand as I’m barely impacted. I won’t even bother to do so. I’ll take a larger societal lens instead and let the experts dig into this complex issue.
This post is not a global post, it’s focused specifically on my southern relatives. What’s going on now is the build up of years of events. It’s built on the foundation that one life is worth more than another’s. That there are “others” in our midst. That isolation and division is a better way forward that working together.
There’s no one root cause just like there’s no one solution. America’s version of capitalism is a warped affair that only benefits the already-rich. It’s not possible to become “wealthy” in that sense without being an athlete, artists, or getting an insane amount of seed funding / gift (which has it’s own gates). The simple matter is that you become richer by getting the money from people who have less than you. The lack of tools for the social masses effectively makes the US remain a state of servitude to survive. How the “best country on the planet” doesn’t think affordable health care for all is a good thing is amazing to me. Even more folly when you consider that the US is beaten by Cuba in health scores.
It’s a social dissonance to claim to have ethics and morals, only to not hold your elected officials to the same standards. The concept of trusting the person representing a group of people is just plain lost. That gerrymandering is not only allowed, but encouraged is disgusting. 2 party systems don’t work, there are enough historical examples of it. Pendulum swings cause larger and larger after effects, and there is only 1 outcome – social upheaval. Sure, you may have a dictator (self-appointed leader) installed in the interim (like say China or Russia) but the end result always ends in the same place. As long as you think of people as “them”, then there’s no real progress to be had.
Being a first responder is a calling, it is not a job. They are meant to represent the best of us, a position of trust at our weakest points. In Canada, all first responders go through a psych assessment prior to deployment. I won’t say it catches everything, but I do know that it filters out a lot. When something does happen (it will eventually), there’s an inquiry and they are treated with the same laws as everyone else. It is not perfect, but it says something that in 2019 7 people have died in Canada to law enforcement, compared to 132 in the US (403! in 2018). There are deep seated cultures in law enforcement, and it only takes a tiny percentage to exemplify the worst of those qualities to bring out the marches.
Now we get to the cynicism part. Peaceful protests are ok, but kneeling is not. Respecting all values and lives is ok, but supporting Hong Kong is not. Taking no responsibility but claiming all credit. Abortion is wrong but letting seniors die is ok. Supporting businesses in need is ok, but first you need to pay your friends. It’s ok to have white folks with guns charge a government building, but people walking in the streets deserve attack dogs and to be shot. You can have one or the other, but not both. Speaking from both sides of the mouth means you can’t actually do anything.
There’s a limit to society’s patience. It’s like a wave of change, and the dam that people in power put in to try and change the flow, or reduce the impacts. That dam works for a while, but eventually the flow becomes too much and destroys that dam. Now the cynic in me says that this is a phase, and that a new dam is being built because of a lack of leadership & power in that wave. The people that could implement meaningful change simply don’t want to because it means less power for them. (I am bitter about electoral reform up here).
The video of the Canadian PM reflects my own ability to digest and respond to these events. That 20 second pause says more than everything else that follows.
Sometimes, the house just can’t be renovated anymore, and you need to build a new one. The US hasn’t seen that for 200+ years. Dozens of countries have undergone it in the last 100 years. All of them, without exception, were triggered by social unrest. I would be surprised if that was the case today, but it’s not far off.