Written September 22, 2016
As I sit here in my comfy chair and my comfy clothes trying to find my inspiration to write, find myself disturbed, disheartened, and with a very heavy heart. I am sitting here with a cup of coffee in my hand and a kitty on my lap while I’m watching yet another prayer vigil that turned into a protest and then turned into a riot.
Today it’s going on in another town, in another state, but over the same narrative. Another black man was shot by a police officer. Justified or not, armed or unarmed, white officer or black officer, whatever the case may be. I have to say, my heart aches for the members of community who are held hostage by the violent protesters, the store owners who are having their stores looted and vandalized, the police who are risking their lives to protect their city, the victim and his family, and the protesters – both the peaceful and the violent ones.
I’m also not just referring to this protest in this city. I’m referring to protests in all cities in all states and all races. I’m not going to sit in my comfy home and pretend to know or understand the pain, frustration or raw anger that everyone feels. What I do know is this, a man named Dr Martin Luther King Jr lived in a time when race relations were much worse than today.
It makes no difference if it’s African-Americans being shot by police officers and feeling systemically oppressed. Or even the Native Americans gathering in prayer to protect the land from the oil pipeline. I’ve seen whites and other races mixed in and standing arm in arm with the rest of the protesters and protectors.
In Dr King’s day that’s something you probably would’ve never, ever seen. So tell me, to those who are violent protesters and the leaders who either condone it or the ones who ignore it all, I’d like you to consider something. If a mother NEEDS to go to a store to get food for their family or your family member NEEDS their heart prescription at the drugstore in the morning or the next day or so, how can they do it if you looted, burned down or otherwise vandalize that store? Why, why, why do you destroy your own city over this? Do you not know you are hurting yourself and your community more than it already is? Or if you’re one of those paid agitators from outside the area, would you like it if this by happened in your community?
As I said, I’m not going to pretend to know or understand your life. I’m not even going to sit here and let word vomit spew from my mouth. I am, however, going to ask everyone involved if you know who Dr Martin Luther King Jr was? We all know the name because there’s a holiday named after him, but do you really know anything about him? More importantly, do you know what he stood for?
If you don’t know I recommend you look him up. Until then I would ask that each of us put ourselves in each others shoes. How would you feel if you were a police officer, or worse – the officer who fired the fatal shot? What would it feel like if you were an honest, hardworking member of a community being held hostage by the violence? What if you were the business owner who put their whole life’s savings into their businesses only to have their store broken into and cleaned out. What would you think and feel then?
If you felt like you were unjustly targeted by police how would it feel? While you contemplate those answers please read some of Dr King’s words that he wrote, spoke or both. Let’s put down all of our weapons, including our mouths, and open up our minds and a dialogue to discuss how we can stop the violence and begin to heal. If not for yourself, think of your children and all future generations
Dr Martin Luther King Jr (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
1. We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
2. We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.” ~Dr Martin Luther King Jr
3. People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
4. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.
5. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
6. That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
7. We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
8. I have decided to stick to love … Hate is too great a burden to bear.