Everyone deserves to come home safe.
If you have been living in isolation you might not have read about the events of Ferguson, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Officer Charles Kondek, Officer Rafael Ramos, or Officer Wenjian Liu all of whom have been killed this year - and all of whom are connected by a conversation we are having in public spaces - albiet terribly.
Words contain a profound power that social media can tend to help us forget.
If you are like me, you have seen your share of the racist "friends" weighing-in their thoughts on Ferguson or over the weekend when the three police officers were shot and killed you might have those "friends" on facebook who celebrated that the "cops got what they deserved." Ignore for a second the heartless idiocy in both points of view and instead focus on the conversation.
I think that there is a healthy amount of conversing we should have about race and power in America. However, randomly shooting police officers is no different than randomly shooting, what I might call, suspects of race for this argument.
If you are the sort that thinks every police officer hates African Americans that is a nuanced level of racism (closer to classism) but walks hand in hand with people that think every African American is a thief, thug, or gang member. Neither of these do anything to help the situation.
In all four cases social media held a pivotal role in its view by the general public. In the case of Ferguson the decision was held in the court of hashtags once the Grand Jury made its opinion known and for the most part not one person that posted on social media read all the documents released that night. In Eric Garner's case the line of MMA experts brought into the conversation to debunk the takedown ignited a very different conversation. Over the weekend the two officers assassinated in Brooklyn, the suspect posted his thoughts on Instagram prior to the attack.
Social media increases the speed at which we can have these conversations or make decisions, but what it cannot do is improve the thought that goes into the arguments. What would happen if we were intentional about slowing it down? Maybe counting to ten before we post the first story we see on the web and ignite a firestorm of racist tirades or anti-police rants? Or maybe you keep these sort of posts off of social media and have them in person? There is power in social media, I am just not sure we are ready to use it.
Over the weekend Al Sharpton attempted to slow the violence down by echoing my thoughts " Any use of the names Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice." While I agree with the words, leaders on all sides need to be very careful in what they say, and more specifically, how they say it.
I long for a day where we could have a conversation, a civil, logical conversation about how to move the country forward because this violence is an unneeded distraction. Government needs some adjustments and holistically we could be more kind as a nation, but answering gunfire with gunfire, racism with classism, or barbs for insults tears the people apart.
If you think things should change, I agree.
I just think we can do it with the audacious weapon of kindness. Everyone deserves to come home safe at night, every one of us.