Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson, MO

I’ve been thinking about Ferguson, MO and my heart breaks.  Where did we fail as Americans? As people with moral codes? I watched on my TV screen last night the tension break out after the announcement that the police officer would not be indicted and I wondered when it became the norm to riot and destroy property because you didn’t get your way.  I wondered what they think they will accomplish.

Before I go on, I want to say that I KNOW that there are race issues in this country.  I know there are cops who mistreat black people simply because they are black.  Just like there are black people who will break the law.  What I don’t believe is that this is the norm for either group of people.  I believe that the majority of people (black and white) are good.  Just like I believe that the majority of cops are honest and fair.

After listening to the presentation of facts last night, the officer in Ferguson was defending his life.  That’s what the majority of witnesses said, that’s what the evidence said, and that’s what the Grand Jurors who reviewed it all said.

So, tell me, what was accomplished by those who rioted in the street? Who broke store windows? Who challenged the police?  Did you make people sit up and take notice to the plight of “your people”?  Did you encourage a sympathetic response? A change? A dialogue?  NO WAY.  You simply reinforced the opinion that was already formed.  Right or wrong. 

I am so sorry for Mr. Brown’s family. They have experienced a devastating loss.  But their son was not murdered.  He lost his life because he chose to fight with a police officer.  From the testimonies of eye witnesses, he charged the police officer.  This is an act of aggression.  I’m sorry he lost his life…but that officer did not murder him.

Just like the many other people we’ve read about in the news … when a police officer tells you to put down the weapon … PUT IT DOWN.  You can argue it is a toy or a BB gun or pretend knife later.  But don’t stand there waving it … don’t argue with the police.

Now, I’m not saying that the police are always right.  In fact, sometimes they get it wrong.  But instead of accusing them of murder, how about trying to walk in their shoes.  How about thinking from their point of view.  Every day they put their lives on the line to protect us.  Every day they face people who would rather kill them face prison.  Every day they get up and go to a job that could end their lives to protect you and me.  Forgive them if they get a little rough when faced with a threat to their lives…to their families.

Do we need to change attitudes in this country? Yes.

If there a racist cop on a police force, his superiors need to get him off the street. They can’t look the other way. They have to identify this threat and remove it.  We all know that cops will defend cops but it is time to stop defending them if they are wrong.  If there are accusations against an officer, it must be dealt with seriously and investigated.

And to my fellow Americans … we’ve got to stop the racism.  We’ve got to stand up to those who look down on certain people because of their race or religion or whatever.  We’ve got to unite or our nation will continue on a downhill spiral. We’ve got to stop assuming that because someone is black or poor or different that they are somehow inferior.

And those of you who riot in the street… you’ve got to stop that nonsense.  There is a better way to get your voices heard and to effect change.  Trust me…no one is seriously listening to your pleas when you are throwing molotov cocktails and destroying property.  We are simply shaking our heads and wondering why you are acting like spoiled children.

And for those of you who are hate-mongers…it is time to shut your mouths.  There are white folks and black folks who are spewing a lot of hate against each other.  Don’t be fooled – they aren’t fighting for your rights; they are working to further divide this country.

One last question, and actually it is what I opened with, where have we failed?  Why do people think that rioting is the way to enact change.  Have we fail to teach respect in our schools…in our homes?  Where are the mentors?  There are so many children growing up in homes where dad is absent and mom is struggling to make ends meet (or vice versa).  We have communities that are struggling to give children a basic education.  Children are going to school and to bed hungry.  Children are home alone with TV as their babysitter and video games their picture of the world. 

It is time for Americans to step up and see the destruction in our country and work together for a solution.  It is time for politicians to become servants of the people.  It is time to revamp our budget to rein in the spending in other countries and keep that money here at home to fix our problems.  I believe it starts with education.  I believe we need to encourage our youth to be productive citizens.

But I don’t know the answers as to how to fix this.  I don’t know how to enact this change.  But there are those who do; who are in positions of power and influence.  STEP UP.  Youth, step up and be counted.  Build up instead of tearing down.

And to close…to my fellow Americans in Ferguson, I’ve been praying for you. My heart is heavy with the devastation you’ve experienced – from the death of a young man to the accusations against a peace officer to the destruction of property and the tearing apart of your community.  I pray you stand tall and rebuild and repair relationships.

And I pray that America changes.  That we stop the self-destruction from within.

I realize this is far from what I usually post, but my heart is heavy and felt I needed to get it out.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Susan