July 2016 – SOCIAL MELTDOWN – Even before the tragic deaths of Philando Castille in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and the five police officers were killed in Dallas, Texas; America knew it had a race problem. It just didn’t realize how bad it was. The election of Barack H. Obama, a black president, in 2008 didn’t make the race issue in America go away. In many ways, race relations in the U.S. only worsened because sometimes is easier for people to stand on the opposite sides of race rather than principle.
Obama galvanized some communities and polarized others. When the Noble Peace Prize winning president found he couldn’t bridge the gap with Republicans on issues by quiet diplomacy, he resorted to executive action to enforce his agenda – further alienating the political power structure in Washington. If U.S. leaders can’t learn to build bridges on searing disagreements than that doesn’t bode too well as an example for the rest of us.
What Americans need is something that will unite them – something or someone to rally behind, and they haven’t had much of that since the ole days when Ronald Reagan spoke glowingly of reigniting American nationalism. The unifying force for Ronald Reagan was ending the hostage crisis in Iran and bringing the American embassy staff in Tehran home – something Jimmy Carter, his predecessor, failed to do.
The old saying is true – ‘Black and White doesn’t work in a gray world.’ The complexity of dealing with race is multi-faceted and requires a similar approach to finding solutions. It requires erecting bridges and scaling walls. It requires finding common ground rather than open space. And open mind, rather than a closed fist. It requires a multicultural involvement that is non-violent and powerful enough to instill change. Unfortunately, it’s easier to change laws than it is to change people’s minds and attitudes. The austere reality is America has a long troubled history dealing with race issues that have contentiously divided the nation. From the resettlement of Native Americans, to the Civil War over slavery (1861-1865), to repealing the Jim Crow laws of 1865 to 1866, to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, to the Latin American, East Asian, and Muslim immigration issues of today.
Violence is repulsive in all of its forms. Police brutality, hate crimes, and the execution of police officers are all heinous and should be publicly condemned. If there is injustice at the barrel of a gun, we will find no justice in the trigger of another. Revolution without evolution is merely going around in circles.
Only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) resulted in convictions of officers involved. The shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota follow a long string of deaths of black people at the hands of the police — in Staten Island; Cleveland; Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; and North Charleston, S.C., among others — that have stoked outrage around the country. The encounters, many of them at least partly caught on video, have led to intense debate about race relations and law enforcement. The Dallas Police Department’s unprecedented use of an explosive-laden robot to kill an armed suspect in Dallas ushers in a new phase in the militarization of U.S. police departments. 1
As the American population continues to grow, as the country grows more culturally diverse, as the gap between the rich and poor, and races widens, as the country’s military continues to be overstretched when the national debt is rising and the will to eliminate it erodes, as corruption increases in public office and the luster of national heroes continue to tarnish, as justice is dispensed upon the poor and distilled for the rich, and as the country abandons religious values and virtues for the sake of secularism and materialism, the country’s strength and vitality will continue to weaken.
The 2016 presidential U.S. election offers Americans no real untarnished heroes or hopefuls. Donald Trump is brash and controversial. Hillary Clinton is unethical and has proven she can’t be entrusted with classified information, much less America’s future. This presidential election dilemma of “picking your own poison” will further polarize people and will likely further divide America – no matter who wins. As the American population both ages and grows, the challenges to keep the Republic together and intact becomes increasingly more complex. In nature, when organisms are confronted with changes in their environment, they evolve upwards to the challenge not spiral downwards in violent revulsion to a shifting paradigm.
America needs jobs – not lectures. America needs cohesion not coercion. Americans need a reason to stockpile hope rather than guns. The killing will only end when the healing begins. We have to become bigger than the challenges that threaten to defeat us, otherwise we will be defeated by the challenges. Today, we are at a turning point in human history, and if we don’t turn from this violent point and become more humane; we’ll become history. –Alvin Conway