As the events of the last week have unfolded, I along with many have struggled to internalize what is developing in front of us. I understand the protesting and mostly support it. However, the lawlessness has tarnished the message. Violence is not the solution. We are better than that.
Everyone, literally EVERYONE deserves equality of justice under Law. The United States is the greatest melting pot experiment in history. Are we perfect? far from it. Is pursuit of a “more perfect union” a constant but noble challenge, absolutely. The honorable struggles of the Civil Rights are a testament to what can happen together. That movement shall not and must not be tarnished.
By in large this movement, is a 21st century technology driven calling that injustice still exists. That should not fall on deaf ears. For me, I hear it and I hope political leaders of all affiliations include that ethos in their conscience and their soul.
What is essential now more than ever is to help healing and start listening. Go meet your neighbors and put away your mobile phone. Learn about them. Understand them. Help them. Society only works when we work together. Justice deprived from some impacts us all.
Many have talked about privilege and how we can ever recover from such a head-start for some. There is of course no good answer. What some view a privilege, others view as the other having envy. As a kid, my mother always taught me that the keys to success where working your tail off, studying, and helping people. I asked once how that person had that new BMW. Her answer was always, they just worked harder than their neighbor to enjoy the nicer things in life. 30 years later that lives within me.
How does one distinguish the difference between achievements made over a lifetime due to their privilege or was it hard work and sacrifice? Moreover, how does one do that in a heated environment and then in the span of 140 characters? You just cannot. No one can. More importantly no one should have to.
This then leads to the next avenue of challenges. Since a person cannot “prove” it was not due to hard work, some have the narrative that then he / she must have illegitimately received the things he / she enjoys (e.g. house / car etc). This notion is fundamentally counter to the rule of law. A prosecutor must prove guilt, NOT having the charged party prove his innocence. We are all innocent until proven guilty. We are all a product of our decisions and our upbringing until such time as it can be proven that a privilege occurred.
Does privilege still occur, without question yes. Does it permeate and touch every single person providing an untouchable advantage? No. My parents burned in my brain the wisdom of the Civil Rights movement and the notion that we all have equal access to justice under law. When I saw the events of Minneapolis, it was infuriating. We cannot and must not sit idle and have equal access to justice be tarnished / smudged. Is the system perfect? No. Is the pursuit a noble one, yes. Will violence and mass looting / lawlessness help the situation? Absolutely not. We are a country of Laws.
Capitalist democracy in that manner is perpetually messy and plagued with inefficiencies. That said, it still stands as the greatest leveling force in the history of time to allow people (with the pursuit in mind) equal opportunity to make something better for themselves. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. The pursuit is a noble and worthy cause.
We do not have, and frankly nor should we have a world of equality of outcome. We are all unique. We are all wonderful in that regard. Why would we destroy our uniqueness?
As unique beings with our own thoughts and aspirations, having equality of outcome would simply never work. When I needed surgery a few year ago, I asked the doctor that sacrificed free time, studied, and became a surgeon to do the work. Not the average person. As it should be.
Put bluntly, equality of outcome and equal access to justice are two totally different things. Equal access to justice is the cornerstone to any peace-loving society. We should all be willing to fight to preserve it. But fight who? Where does the rage go?
So much of the last week also forms around semantics. Equality means different things to different folks.
Challenging people that their life is a result of privilege without knowing anything about the person than you are not only figuratively but literally being a racist.
So to that end, as the grandson of immigrant (specifically one that fled the holocaust), I can assure you there was no privilege. Quite the opposite. There was anti-semitism, ridicule, and discrimination. Hard work for the last 70+ years and a loving family took my family from gates of being shot because of their religion to America to start over with basically nothing to what we have today. What we have earned today. Not taken. Not been given. What we have earned through toil, risk, and education. There is no guilt you should ever feel when you have worked hard and done it the right way.
To make the assumption that all of efforts to achieve, study, take risks, work hard were somehow solely and exclusively as a result of the skin color is just simply offensive.
What I personally see is a lack of accountability from all levels unwinding in front of us. If the looters and some politicians can advocate that the system is the problem, then no one has to be accountable. Accountability is a pain. No one wants it. It brings limited upside and infinite downside.
When you hear that someone wants to blame the looting on the system, it is equal to saying the system made me do it or it is justified. When in reality lawlessness and criminal conduct is simply not acceptable. We are better than that. A nation of laws with no accountability is no longer a nation of laws. That said, we must all be measured in how we implement those laws.
If you want to be mad at the system, I get it. Do something about it. Be active. Be politically active. Write papers. Make videos. Get your message out. Build a community around you of those that want to make things better. If you want to focus your frustrations in life on the system and claim it is irredeemably racist and therefore violence against innocent people is justified, I fear you are lost.
Some will say we need to defund the police department. With the looting and violence that occurred after the protests started, to think that removal of law enforcement, that would be people that swore an oath to enforce the law, would some how many things more peaceful, is just lunacy. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t advocate reform and have community oversight boards. All of those things are needed. Political leadership and community involvement is essential. However, to think that all police, again people that risk their lives every single day, are generically part of the problem is just flat false. We have a cultural challenge and a crisis of political leadership where instead of holding those accountable that disrupt society, we are blaming them for societies failings as whole.
In honor of the recent protests and the Civil Rights movement as a whole and fundamentally more for the perpetual pursuit of Equal access to Justice for all, I morn for the loss of life and make the solemn promise to do what I can to make society a more harmonious and tranquil.