The interval between these episodes seems, in my opinion, to becoming shorter and shorter. They're beginning to become an almost-monthly occurrence. Now, nine people are gone, another life ruined (presumably to be ended after a trial, countless appeals, and any number of years on death row), and countless family members and friends of these people have yet another mark on the calendar that will forever haunt their memories. I don't, however, have to go through the horrid details for you. We've seen them on television for the past several days repeatedly. Therein, my friends, lies a huge part of the problem. Let me tell you why some of us, as white people, have a unique perspective on why this has happened.
As I sat watching yet another story covering this horrific tragedy, a black television host interviewing a black community leader, the question was posed again - "Why do we think this happened?" Well, fellas, let me tell you that you're part of the problem, in my opinion. How so? This kid (okay, adult, but still a kid by my standards) made comments while standing over his victims about his feelings that, "You're raping our women, taking over our country. You have to go." Even after admitting he almost did not commit this act because the people in church were so nice to him, he still felt strongly compelled to take the lives of nine people. To say he did it because of the color of their skin, I think, is oversimplifying the issue. He didn't do it because they were black - he did it because they were black and his perception, based on what he has seen in the media (again, just my opinion), is that blacks are taking over the country and he didn't like it. Oh, I'm sure there is far more to the hate he felt, and fairly certain his past is riddled with troubled situations, but let's be honest - the media has done nothing more than fan the flames of racism.
Now, we're going to remove the Confederate flag from the state house in South Carolina because that, finally, will eliminate racism. Okay, I know you're going to say, "No, but the flag needs to go because of what it represents." Fair enough. What does it represent? It represents a time in our past when southern states were determined to secede from the Union. They wanted out and, by God, they were going to do it. To them, the flag was no different than the flag the Union used - red, white, and blue with thirteen stars. Just because this is now associated with 'southern rednecks and hillbillies, let's not make it something it isn't.....or wasn't. Yes, I know - I have sufficiently be made aware of the fact that the south wanted to continue the practice of slave ownership. When was the last time anyone owned a slave in the south? If recollection serves, it's been more than 100 years, right? Look, I'm not saying the flag should or should not stay where it is. All I am asking is, in the whole scheme of things, what difference will it make? Are we really saying that this kid killed nine people because of a flag??
No, my friends, he did it because he felt a growing hatred that continues to be perpetuated by the media. For days we watched, all of us, the city of Baltimore as it teetered on the brink of anarchy. We watched as fires were set to a local CVS pharmacy and, once the firemen arrived, knives boldly and brazenly taken to the hoses so the fires could not be extinguished. Seriously, I watched one person, a cowardly black man with his face covered, walk up to a fire hose and slit the material twice. I say cowardly because he would not show his face, yet let his own neighborhood burn intentionally. This arrogance and stupidity was shown on national television, live, and was broadcast repeatedly. Would any of you have wanted to walk those streets? My guess is not and, as much as the Charleston killer's acts were hate crimes, the acts in Baltimore and other areas, those of civil disobedience, are something I would consider domestic terrorism.
Here's my point to the rant above - our compass and direction is so badly skewed that we can no longer focus on what the real issues are. Did it truly escape everyone's attention that a 21-year old kid was filled with such hate that he opened fire in a church on unarmed people? Are we seriously going to blame that on a flag? Are we going to blame it on guns? I own two handguns and have yet to shoot anyone. Want to know why? I respect the law...and life. Unless I, or someone else is threatened with loss of life, it will not be used for that purpose. So this kid had his picture taken with the Confederate flag and hated blacks, huh? Well, certainly removing all the Confederate flags will stop this type of behavior. Wal Mart, Target, eBay and others refusing to sell anything with this flag will go a long way toward....ending these killings? No, it will go a long way toward stopping the sale of the flags. Period. Ah, but that's a great start, right? Yep. A great start to ending freedom of speech and history lessons. Most people accept that flag as representing slavery, eh? Only if you're drunk or stoned or can't read a history book.
We need to get our collective acts together and focus on making sure we help each other. We need to be 'color blind' and see people as....well, people. Lest anyone think this isn't a 'two way street', though, let's also point out that others have to stop acting barbaric and with a sense of lawlessness. If you want to protest, do it without civil disobedience. Take notes from Dr King, not the rantings of Al Sharpton. Seriously, we all....ALL....have to stop acting like fools and being discriminatory. Let's help each other. Let's be kind to each other. In the end, as simplistic as this approach sounds, we're all we have, gang. Make an effort to care about black, white, green, yellow pink, and purple. Do your best to just be nice.....to everyone. We're making it harder than it has to be and focusing on the wrong things.....and, ultimately, we all made a promise (or should have) - we all promised to, and have the responsibility to, make this world a better place for our kids. Do we want to leave them with the world the way it is? Let's change it now.....with one kind word at a time.
Until next time.................