As a starting point can we all agree that the actions of the police officers in Minneapolis were not only wrong but criminal? Can we all agree that these officers need to be charged, tried and, if convicted for the death of George Floyd, sentenced to prison? Can we all agree that subjecting black citizens to scrutiny that white citizens would not face is wrong? Can we all agree that rioting, looting, destruction of private and public property is wrong? Can we all agree that citizens have an absolute right to petition the government for the redress of grievances and peaceful protests to accomplish this are constitutionally guaranteed? Can we all agree that when any protest morphs into criminal behavior or riots the government has an absolute duty to act in whatever way necessary to stop the criminal behavior? Can we all agree that one of the principal obligations of government is the protection of the welfare and safety of all citizens?
Perhaps I am naïve, but I think the answer to each of the questions is “yes” and I think well over 95% of the population of the country would as well. So, the question becomes what must be done to assure the outcomes we agree upon are the common practice in the day to day lives of all our citizens?
Instead of promoting what we can all agree upon it seems as though our political parties, our leaders of every political persuasion and the media stress and emphasize statements, events or groups that cause division among the citizens. I recognize the saying in the news media “if it bleeds, it leads” and that what is good “clickbait” needs to be on the internet. But it is sowing the seeds of destruction of this country. This divisiveness cannot continue and those persons and institutions that impact how citizens think and behave need to stop saying and doing things that promote division.
Do we need to destroy this country to save it? I think not. Making judgments based on race or the color of one’s skin will likely not be eliminated in my lifetime nor the lifetime of my grandchildren. While that may be a depressing observation it is likely true as racism has existed throughout history. What we can do is to reduce it to a minimum and certainly not perpetuate or permit any form of racism by legislative acts or governmental policies. We can also each live our own life in a way so that we are an example to others of treating people in the manner we would wish to be treated.
Sadly, I believe there is no “silver bullet” to suddenly effectuate the change necessary. Certainly, destruction of our society will not accomplish it. I think it can only be done one step at a time. Where to begin is the issue? Since I was a college student in the early 1960s, the progress towards racial equality has been substantial but that is over a 60-year period. I think we all believed then the injustices of those days would be simply a distant memory by now. Yet here we are with some of the same problems as then, just not as many, and not as pervasive.
I think that education is the ultimate answer. Education in schools, in churches and in the home. Probably the home is most important as values taught by parents are very hard to change. We also need all leaders in all facets of society to forgo short term political gain by playing to the flow of the most current political wind. They need to be united in the goal of equality under the law and equality in the enforcement of the law.