Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Twitterverse and ignorance in Baltimore

You might say I am late to the game on the situation in Baltimore . . . 

I disagree.  I think it was best to wait.

Like you, I looked at what people were saying.  At times Twitter had me nodding in agreement and then at other times want to throw at cat through a window.  Clearly, it was too early to draw conclusions.  Everyone was looking for a Tweetable thought.  Which means the thoughts were not the most thought-through-thoughts.  Trying to capture a moment when it is happening loses the importance of the moment.  What you say is more of a flashpoint . . . saying more about your own bias than what is really happening.   

For example, one of my friends posted: "they are like animals . . . just proving their stereotype."

Excuse me?  What stereotype would that be?  Perhaps it is proving your stereotype?  Some people would de-friend or unfollow such bigotry but I like to hope the future gives me influence over narrow minded racism.  One can only hope.

Or how about this: "If there is so much misery, unemployment and lack of opportunity for young people in Baltimore, how about MOVING!!!"

Tell me that doesn't sound like Marie Antoinette . . . 

I can't begin to fathom the lack of understanding about human nature this demonstrates.  There are a series of social, economic and educational forces that bring people to a point where they want to burn the place that they live.  This is truth we can't deny.  Of course that doesn't absolve the person who is doing it from personal responsibility.

Listen - every person who trashed downtown Baltimore last week made a conscious choice to do something really stupid, and no amount of racial, economic, social or political force makes a person make a really stupid choice.  And sometimes people cloak their desire to want to be a thug with something attractive like 'social justice.'

However . . . 

Even the most callous of us wants to figure out why someone would burn their own room down.  You are right to say that the looters are to blame for Baltimore, period.  But we can't stop at culpability - we have the responsibility as humans to lift each other up.  If we know better, we need to help others know better.  So to say that they should just move is light years from any understanding on what is going on among those who feel oppressed in our country.  

I really loved the meme that said Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, she didn't burn the bus down.  That was a good one.  It is true - she was part of a strategy to address injustice and it won in the end.  King said it: Hate breeds hate.  Darkness never overcomes darkness.

So I guess the question is "what are we going to learn from this?"  Is John Stewart right?  Will we all, "breathe a collective sigh of relief" when the news coverage goes away and we can get back to our main areas of concern?  Will we feel better when the burned-out CVS is rebuilt?  Or will we really address what is going on with racism in our country?  Something tells me that bodycams on policemen will only add fuel to the fire.  Just peruse the YouTube channels of violent police and gang  interactions.  Body cams will just give us more high adrenaline snippets of policemen and gangs  (completely void of any context) and only serving to stir up passions and the accompanying racism.  

It makes me think of the Tweet I saw:

"Telling me I'm obsessed with racism is like telling me I'm obsessed with swimming when I'm drowning."   

This comes from someone who lives it.  For many of us it is an 'issue' or 'problem' (as in "what do we do with the 'problem' of racism?)  What would I do if it defined me and where I lived and whether I could get a job to move out of an undesirable area?  

So I think now is a good time, as the tensions begin to subside, to start talking about how we move forward.  No more knee-jerk reactions.  No torching streets and throwing garbage - stomping on windshields and brawling in the street.  

Similarly, no uninvested semi-racist musings as we watch from the 'burbs and treat the whole issue like it is so easy to fix "if they would just move out."  If you are a Jesus follower it is actually part of the job . . . we are invested in justice and righteousness.

"No, Oh people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8

And that starts with what we say.  So chose wisely.

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