The following was written by my youngest daughter and posted on Facebook. She has given me permission to use it here. It deserves a place on this blog as a heartfelt plea for change as America faces upheavals after the death of yet another unarmed black man at the hands (knee) of one or more policemen. The message is a spotlight on our national failure.
"As I sit in my bed, tears streaming down my face, I have these thoughts:
Hate is fear and ignorance. Someone taught you to hate, you weren't born with it. Think about that person. Think about who taught them, and the others before them. Think about how that fear and ignorance shaped their lives and how it spread. Hate is easy, it's weak and it's lazy. It's just a repetition of those before you.
Now think about someone who taught you to love. Think about the way their example of compassion, curiosity, and kindness made you experience joy and fulfillment. Love can be hard. It takes courage and commitment to learn about that person and accept them into your life.
You have a choice. You can break the cycle of hate that has been passed down for generations, or you can continue to spread it.You can honor the person who taught you love, or you can throw away that gift.
If you are a parent, you have that power to choose for your children now. They will see you, hear you, and emulate you. You have to mean it.
If you are a teacher, highlight the people who may not be in the standard curriculum - Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Ada Lovelace, Ann Hutchinson, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, Elizabeth Blackwell, Kate Sheppard, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Don't know who any of these ladies are? Exactly, that's the problem.
If you are in entertainment, write and cast fully-realized characters from all genders, orientations, races, ethnicities, and religious affiliations. And don't stereotype them and perpetuate the fear.
Elect leaders who reflect your values of kindness and respect.
Don't elect sociopathic, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, lying bullies.
Travel. Talk to people who aren't like you. ( not right now of course, but when you can ) Some with a different race, gender, orientation, hobby, ethnicity, religion, pet. Anything. Just talk to people and educate yourself. It becomes so much harder to hate."
The key person in the cause of this death has been arrested and charged; others may follow. Justice has started its slow process of accountability.
The fires and rioting are not to be condoned and have no place in our society. They are counterproductive to the long term goals they are meant to highlight. The vast majority of police officers are honest, dedicated, hard-working people who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve all of us. They are essential to the lives we live. The men involved in the death of Mr. Floyd do not represent this profession. They are aberrations.
That said, as a privileged white male I can't possibly feel the fear and separateness that this segment of our population experiences on a daily basis. But, I can try to understand the rage and helpless feelings that has driven this behavior.
Thank you to my daughter for saying something that needs to be said and repeated over and over and over until the message is heard.