‘From our family to yours, have a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving…’
This is a sentiment expressed by and to Americans during this final week of November countless times, and is usually received with grateful attitudes and heartfelt thanks...except when it comes in the form of a tweet from an NFL team called The Washington Redskins. When that happens, conspiracy theorists and political pundits alike feel there must have been an ulterior motive that involves pot shots and poor taste and the ultimate question of ‘what did they mean by that!’
I am curious to know when we, as a nation, became so cynical. Why can’t, ‘have a good day,’ mean, ‘have a good day,’ without anything more being read into it? Is it human nature to see only the bad or is it the skewed perspectives we have picked up along the way that make it so?
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In August, a young man, Michael Brown, 18 years of age, on the weekend before he was to start college, got into an altercation with a policeman and was gunned down in the street. His life was abruptly ended before it could even take off. His death ignited a maelstrom of events, riots and racial tension that has carried on for months.
If you believe one life does not make a difference, think again.
The ripples of his death sent shock waves throughout the nation and even around the world.
This week was Thanksgiving week in America. This week, a grand jury released a verdict that the officer involved in killing Michael Brown, would not be indicted, triggering a whole new wave of riots and looting from angry people.
What happened on that hot August day will never fully be understood. Conflicting eyewitness accounts, an overwhelmed grand jury panel with an overabundance of evidence, (some relevant, some not), caused them to bring forth a non-indicting verdict.
I watched an interview with Michael Brown’s grieving parents. The media would have us believe he was a monster, deserving of his fate, but the anguish I saw in his mother and father, well spoken, heart broken people, showed me a different perspective.
In the end, this is what the whole thing comes down to, perspective.
Was he a criminal? Maybe. Video tapes showed him stealing less than an hour before he died.
Did he deserve to die for this? No.
Eyewitness accounts were conflicting, thus confusing the grand jury.
Were these witnesses lying? No. Studies have shown repeatedly how unreliable witness testimony is because human memory is so unreliable. Our brains lie to us all the time making us believe we saw things we didn’t or we remember things in a different way than actually happened.
Should the officer involved have gone to trial for this? In my humble opinion, yes.
The grand jury was inundated with information they couldn’t process. The letter of the law limited what they could do. They chose, not to give Michael Brown a voice in his defense, even posthumously.
And the community responded, like a powder keg of violence, and It was not wholly unexpected.
Admittedly, how rioting and looting of innocent homes and shops can be justified as a protest is beyond me.
Two negatives do not make a positive.
Two wrongs do not make a right.
Looting to decry injustice is illegal, making the need for law enforcement even more prevalent.
This isn’t the Old West. I’d like to think we have moved beyond finding justice in the barrel of a gun.
Perhaps, out of this horrible event, there will now be a push for more police/body cams to counter unreliable witness accounts.
Perhaps, when the dust settles, cooler heads will prevail and a community effort will be put forth to rebuild instead of tear down.
Perhaps, one day, people will see that violence is not an answer and will only beget more violence.
Or perhaps, that is just my perspective, and it too, is as flawed as the rest.
Take care people. It’s a scary world out there and we are all just trying to survive.
Have a good week…and by that, I mean just that, Have a good week.