I think things. Then I write about them. It's the narcissism, you see.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Where Did it All Go Wrong?

Seems like it’s all coming apart, doesn’t it? 320 million Americans yanking on a piece of fabric—all pulling in different directions.

I remember September 11th and the shock of it. I remember the horror. I remember the perception that for one brief moment just about everyone in the country was on the same side—the idea that no matter what else we did and said to each other we were fundamentally the same. The old “things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us” idea. Maybe, in a world before social media, it was imagined. But it felt real.

That sure was a long time ago, wasn’t it? Dallas was a tragedy in a long line of tragedies that include many questionable police shootings and a very unquestionable shooting in a South Carolina church. We don’t seem to unite behind tragedies like we used to.

A friend of mine was discussing the president’s remarks in the aftermath of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He was lamenting that more people aren’t outraged and aren’t involved. I offered an idea I’ve offered before: that if one isn’t personally affected by these events it’s easy to tune out due to the rhetoric. It’s hostile. It’s angry. It’s sometimes petty. Emotions run hot—I understand that. But it becomes adversarial. This is a national problem but no one seems to be trying to find a national solution. What are the goals for Black Lives Matter? Can any casual observer answer that question? And when the only thing that makes the news are the protests, are we surprised that casual observers can’t answer the question? Meanwhile, aside from getting defensive, what steps are law enforcement agencies taking to understand and eliminate these shootings? Does anyone know? Or are the only thing that’s hitting the mainstream the “thin blue line” and efforts to outshout “black lives matter” with “blue lives matter?”

Adversarial. So much so that while the area was still being secured you see people on social media already blaming news reporters for lying about the timing of the shootings in order to cast blame on the protesters. So much so that while the suspects are being hunted for, pundits are pointing out mistakes made by political opponents. So much so that that night a former Congressman is raving about “war” and “real Americans” coming after Obama. So much so that less than twelve hours after the incident the president is blaming the availability of certain guns for helping to incite violence.







Shootings. Corruption. Racism and inequality. We should be collectively horrified by what’s going on around us and working together to fix it. But we’re not. From Washington on down we’re too busy blaming the thing we don’t like for whatever’s going wrong at the moment. I feel like we’ve lost something and I’m not sure when it happened. A lot of people were shocked by Dallas. Deeply. I passed shock a long time ago. I sat there last night wondering what would be next.

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