“Your Right To Live Isn’t As Important As….”

Not all cops.

Not all white people.

Not all Muslims.

Not all Southerners.

Not all Texans.

Not all Republicans.

Not all Liberals.

Not all men.

We’re really not that different. We see these horrible things that are happening in our country and immediately want to distance ourselves. If they look like us, if they live like us, if they like the same things we like, if they work with us, if they live in our towns, on our streets, in our homes and do something horrible our immediate reaction is “But I’m not like that” and “The good people who I know and love aren’t either!”

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

Of course you aren’t. **pats your head and smiles at you reassuringly**

When did we get so incredibly defensive? Or, more to the point, why? The simplest way to put it is that we’re scared. We’re scared to be lumped in with the evil-doers. We’re scared of being falsely accused. Most of all, we’re scared that we can’t see who is dangerous. Who can we trust? Children, and, let’s face it some adults, are afraid of the dark because they can’t see what might be a danger to them. Is there a monster under the bed waiting to grab your ankles? Is there a minefield of Legos threatening your feet? Is there something hidden in the lack of light that will somehow cause harm? If the person in that uniform is supposed to be a good guy and isn’t, how do we know?

I don’t have any grand answers. I can’t offer a perfectly “acceptable to all” compromise. But I can suggest something that has seemed to work for me. When you read or see a news segment, sit down to think about what happened without commentary. Temporarily disregard profession, race and religion; it gets tedious to follow, but it’s effective.   Example:

Person A is a 7 year old child. Person B is an adult. Person A did some that Person B considered rude and Person B told Person A as much. Person A became upset and cried. Person A told Person C that Person B yelled at them. Person C is Person A’s parent. Person C confronted Person B. The confrontation was verbally aggressive. Person B apologized and didn’t think they scolded Person A. Person B was obviously annoyed at the whole situation and started to walk away. Person C continued to be verbally aggressive and wouldn’t let Person B leave. They exchanged heated words and insults. Person B tried to leave again and Person C wrestled them to the ground.

If someone yells at your kid, you get to be annoyed. If the person apologizes and whether they seem to be sorry or not, you still get to be annoyed. Most of us would mutter more insults and curses and usher our child away from the whole thing. The goal is to get your child away from the perceived danger; if you want to express your anger, fine. You don’t get to physically attack them. Your profession or skin color or religious beliefs do not matter. If you don’t agree with that conclusion, I don’t want to be in an argument with you and respectfully suggest anger management exercises.

Until very recently I was very much a “BUT NOT ALL______” defender. Not all cops, not all white people, and all lives matter. I thought I was feeling the right thing. My intentions were certainly peaceful. I truly said these things with good intentions and no malice. I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this because you know me (thank you), then I know you and, if you still say these phrases, there’s no doubt in my mind your statements are more pleading than combative.   If more than my usual 3 people read this, think about how you are saying these words. Think about why. Are you hoping for peace? Are you reaffirming that you aren’t “one of them”? Are you defensive because your brother, lover, sister, cousin, best friend is an officer? Are you a responsible gun owner and don’t want to relinquish your collection? What threat to you specifically causes NOT ALL_______ to pass your lips?

Once you figure out your motivation, how does it contribute to either the problem or the solution?

If you’re “tired of all this”, why? Are you tired of the violence and death or of defending yourself when you’re not the one accused?

I’m at the point where I want to delete this. This is why I haven’t posted anything in the past year and a half. I type out these thoughts and decide that my opinion doesn’t really matter. If you haven’t agreed with me so far then you aren’t going to wonder how secular laws involving people you don’t know will disrupt your religious beliefs and practices. You won’t think about how maybe our “right to bear and keep arms” shouldn’t include the right a weapon that enables a person to inflict lethal damage to 26 children in less than 5 minutes. You won’t consider that maybe there are officers who were attracted to their profession because they like the power and authority. You won’t think we have a race problem. You will continue to worry just about yourself.

I’m angry. I’m tired of hearing defenses that basically say a person’s right to live isn’t as important as what another gets to do.

You have every right to your opinion. You have every right to voice your opinion. All I really want is for us to really think about what’s happening in this country and stop trying to keep it at a distance. Insisting you aren’t the problem doesn’t do anything but satisfy your own ego.

And if you still want to say “not all_____” don’t forget to add “but one is too many.”

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