Computers, cell phones, cars, houses, a college education. What do all of these items have in common one might ask? They seem to have value. They mean something to our society. Our small minds have dispensed a big portion of the attention we possess to these so called valuables. We willing devote our time, our money and our attention to these tangibles because we have deemed them worth it.
Where there is one list there is always another, so on the flip side let me give you a list of items that do not seem to have value in our society. Human life. Wow, that’s a pretty short list isn’t it? In our desire to own and worship all of these objects we have begun to objectify ourselves. Life has lost its worth. Death has lost its sting.
That’s why we know the name Philando Castile. That is why we have Alton Sterling cases. That’s why someone took the opportunity to turn a peaceful Dallas protest into the massacre of officers ending the lives of five people. Life is worthless. Someone else’s life is worthless. This is not an issue of race. It is not a problem of civil rights or racism from both parties. This is not an issue of politics and taking the correct political stand. This is the product of a nation who is swift to decide blame. A nation who believes it is better to respond in the heat of the emotion-heightened moment than it is to stop and evaluate situations. This is a problem of both officer and civilian matter.
We are a nation with officers who go on average, though it varies by state and department, 19 weeks to an academy and expect that and some mentor training to be enough preparation for the intense situations they will face day-to-day on the job. We are a nation who sings along to rap songs degrading and disrespecting the very men and women we call when we need help. We are a nation that turns peaceful protesting in to looting in the name of some sick and twisted justice. We are the nation that chooses to honor the fallen societal members by blasting their last moments of life all over the internet. We are a nation that would rather argue over gun control and our amendment rights than focus on the fact that we have no rights when we are dead. We are the nation that repeatedly uses the phrase “people kill people” as an excuse without realizing how utterly true and disgusting those three words are. It’s not just one group’s fault and we can’t just keep killing each other and pointing fingers.
The Washington Post reported in early January of this year that the 50 biggest cities in the nation had an increased homicide rate of nearly 17 percent in 2015. With the media being so immensely focused on pushing political agendas and selling stories, it is hard to narrow down those homicide numbers to the past six months because we as a country seem to only be interested in the deaths that involve bigs guns and hate crimes. Regardless of weapons or motive, one idea rings clear through all of these tragedies- our response is to kill. And, while as a society we would eagerly like to pretend we know the rational behind these situations, whether or not the decision to end a life was made for the sake of vengeance or out of fear can only be determined by the killer himself. You know, that’s a word we don’t hear a lot anymore? We’re much more concerned with labeling the life-ender a shooter, an officer, or a terrorist. I guess killer doesn’t have such a sting. Despite the external components of these issues- the name we call, the verdict we give, the excuses the accused provide — the problem is the internal immunity we have to caring for anyone but ourselves. We seem to walk around this earth in three states; oblivion of the turmoil we live in with the chirps and dings of our social media profiles distracting us, upheaval and unrest about the latest tragedy and political argument our friends our posting about, or fear of the opposition taking the only thing we truly have, the thing we seem to only think about moments before it is taken from us. We don’t evaluate and we don’t think critically. We have created a society stuck in the middle of some false dilemma.
The truth is, I’m done caring about the statistics of black on black crime. I’m done caring if more police officers died by the hands of a white guy than they did by the hands of an African American. I’m done caring about the Black Lives Matter movement or the Blue Lives Matter movement or the next movement that will just be a furthering division among the people of our country. What I do care about is human life. I care about the people on this planet and more specifically in this country. I care about the chance they have at making something of themselves. I care about the only thing in this life we are entitled to: opportunity. This country is one of the few where you have the chance to become whatever you want, regardless of your political beliefs, your personal morals and the excuses you’ve made for not doing so yet because of your skin color, or gender, or sexual preferences, or financial status. If you want something bad enough, if you’re willing to work for it, America is where you can achieve it; and if you don’t believe me you should take a look at where some of our finest started out.
But, you can’t do it if you’re dead. So let’s start leaving our futures and our destiny's up to each other and stop making martyrs and murderers out of ourselves. Stop living in the era of fear and hate and start trying to compromise. Are we going to agree on everything? No, but let’s stop fighting for the sake of fighting. As white people, as black people, as hispanics, as every orientation, can we just start being people? Not republicans or democrats. Not gays and straights. Not majorities and minorities. Not officers and civilians. Just people respecting other people.I can name off several intelligent and world-altering individuals who spoke of the dangers of violence for the sake of violence. It gets nowhere. It has gotten us here, a place that I think we can all agree is pretty devastating. So let’s end it. Let’s stop arguing about it and starting talking about it. Let’s start conversing about solutions and offering condolences instead of sharing "witty" negative remarks. If you’re an officer being subjected to unfair stigmas — and trust me, I believe they are unfair — then go out and put forth the effort to do a random act of kindness to change them. I know your plate is already pretty full, but don’t let the only thing the news has to report be that of you ending a life. If you’re an African American being subjected to unfair stigmas — and trust me, I believe they are unfair — then go out and prove everyone wrong. Encourage each other to rise up with your words and not your fists and stop letting your legacy be defined as one filled with violence- even the violence committed against you, because I’ll be the first to acknowledge that you’ve had your share of historical injustices. Let’s spread a little more hope and a lot less hate, because at the end of the day no agenda matters. At the end of this week, seven families are mourning a death. No anti-gun lobbyist wins. No race group wins. Lives were lost. People lose, humanity loses.