I’m going to go a step further. Shocking right, like I’ve been holding back up to this point. But it’s time to wipe the chalkboard clean and make that new path forward we’ve been talking about for so long.
See, history, if you didn’t know this already, is made not just by the people who make it but also by the people who report it. Meaning it’s subjective, able to be interpreted by whoever is doing the recording. Overall, we do a pretty good job but sometimes we don’t. The problem is, unless you were there, you never know the truth. Plus, as we are learning now, one person’s truth is another’s fake news.
Now this is not about specific lies your teachers taught you (Columbus, Native Americans, etc.) but about where we will go once we emerge from this time.
First, judge people on their actions, period. No color, no gender, no labels, no bias, sure it’s tough but you can do it. This also means no one gets a free pass for lawlessness. Bad behavior is bad behavior regardless of who is doing it.
Second, ingrained racism is racism. Would a Fort Adolf Hitler offend you? Of course it would. So let’s get rid of the confederate flag and Aunt Jemima, change some names and take down some sculptures or better yet, put them in museums to remember how backward assed we once were.
Third, change the 5-0. Did you know the police were originally created to apprehend escaped slaves? Did you know police in other countries take the serve part of serve and protect much differently than we do? From Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit to Sweden’s mental health services to Finland’s homeless support. And the protect part, well; maybe if we promoted love instead of hate we wouldn’t need so much protection. And please, let’s look at the military and prison systems as well, the potential to help is huge but unfortunately the history is not so great.
Need a great example of what works? Eric Smith the campus resource officer, he talks to students all day long, enforces the law when necessary and makes me feel safe even when I know there are 350 million guns in America. No bravado, a smile on his face, human being first, cop second.
Fourth, Carpe Diem America. What better time than right now to seize the day. Change government (get rid of the electoral college, register every American to vote and discourage career politicians). Evaluate how “Justice For All” is just not true today. Reform education, and healthcare, and any societal system that is in place to help people but sometimes works to create division.
Many kids get it because they live in a simpler world, uncomplicated with adult complications. They see injustice and react. Let’s listen to and be more like the kids.
The earth is like a giant snow globe right now that has been shaken violently for the last three months (some would argue the last 3 ½ years). It will slowly settle again, it might take some time but it will. Or it might not; maybe the shaking will continue (holding a rally, during a pandemic, with thousands of people inside without required masks or social distancing in a city of great racial significance is, well, I’m all out of adjectives). Maybe we need the globe to break before we work toward a solution but I hope not.
No one is doing well right now. Everything is 50% harder (have you tried popping in to Sonoma Market?), 50% less productive (Distance Learning), 50% less satisfying (How’s that summer vacation coming along?) and 50% more irritating because it’s all 100% up in the air. It’s also 100% not up to you or me as to how this plays out so let’s pivot, let the game play on, interject when we can and do our best to make this time in history matter.