August 7, 2019-
The pain and suffering experienced by anyone, who has lost one or more loved ones in an event of mass violence, has to be of seismic proportions. I can’t imagine the horror they endure, though my family has had its share of loss and suffering. Mass murder of strangers, once upon a time solely a result of warfare, has now become de rigeur.
So, too, has become the stridency of reaction. Among political extremists on both ends of the spectrum, there is a knee-jerk tendency to deride any opposing points of view, almost as if the very existence of the reactor depends upon extinguishing “the other”. It has long been thus. The difference now is that, in order to score points with his perceived base, each of the last two presidents has seen fit to offer inflammatory comments about perceived enemies, within our nation’s borders. The last president backed off, walked back his unfortunate “one size fits all” comments and made some overtures to his perceived betes-noires. The current president seems to be taking initial steps in the same direction.
There is a long way to go. We saw two political extremists, one Alt-Right, the other Far Left, engage in extreme acts of terror, at the end of a week that had already seen unstable people kill others, almost on whim. It may be the end of the bloodshed, but that is unlikely. It has not been the end of obfuscation, deflection and gaslighting, by a long shot.
One of the favourite mantras of the deflecting class is “What about Chicago?” The tendency to conflate an ongoing series of neighbourhood turf wars, as horrific as these are, with the random slaughter of people by those with high-level mental health issues, which have given birth to wild agendas. To be sure, one set of events is as mad as the others. The specific cures, however, are different.
A thoughtful writer, yesterday, noted that ALL of the underlying causes of mass shootings are relevant, and all are solvable. Yes, and yes. There are several laws, Federal, state and local, already on the books, just about everywhere. These need to be collated, publicized widely and consistently enforced. Next, as my wise parents consistently told us, throughout our formative years- Recognize that everyone is a child of God. We must defend ourselves from those who wish us harm, but to go further, and try to exterminate them, (either figuratively or literally), on an individual or collective basis, is ungodly. Everyone, in the end, is part of the mix.
A white supremacist is living in a false reality. I have never, once, been injured by a person of colour. I have been physically attacked and injured, by other white people. Does this, therefore, mean I should eschew all fellowship with those who look like me? Hardly; and likewise, those who are of different levels of melanin are inherently no more of a threat to white people than we, again inherently, are to one another.
There are a lot of social cues, which I am actively working to cast aside from my own being, which serve to separate. The order of the day is to unite. I see the various acts of violence as alarm bells, telling us that it’s time to unite.
In practical, day-to-day terms. I will not refuse to listen to Ben Shapiro or to Rachel Maddow, If I go to San Antonio, I will not boycott Bill Miller BarBQ, as along with Poblanos on Main, it is a favourite of mine. I will not boycott Chik-Fil-A, until the day comes that its owner goes out and commits an act of violence against a gay or bisexual person, which he is very unlikely to do. Even then, he would not be acting on behalf of his company.
What about Chicago? I was there, not long ago. It is a roiling, severely crowded city, with packed neighbourhoods, some narrow streets and air conditioning problems, putting it in company with New York, Boston, Philadelphia and over a thousand cities in countries with emerging economies. It is also a majestic city, like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and over a thousand cities in all parts of the planet. It is a city which can serve as a living laboratory for unity. Simply put, because I’ve gone on for a bit and we’re all busy, I’d love to see a five part conference in Chicago: 1.Put a moratorium on killing, by any mean necessary, for five days; 2. Identify, clearly, the roots of the violence and make them universally understandable, to one and all; 3. Brainstorm, again, the solutions to the violence, and leave nothing out; 4. Winnow these solutions to those which are of greatest benefit to the largest number of people, in all parts of the city; 5. This is the hard part, IMPLEMENT the solutions, one at a time, and do not be deterred by those forces which are inconvenienced in the short or intermediate term.
Could this work? It’s preferable to the ongoing heartache that is endemic in Chicago now. Now that I think of it, could it work in other communities? The deflectors may, unwittingly, unintentionally, be onto something. # One America.