It is hard to know what to write today. We are in day four of an absolutely glorious run of weather. We got to see a few friends this weekend. The SpaceX launch was very cool. There’s a new wave of openings here in Indianapolis today which is making life feel a little more normal.
But all that is offset by what is going on in our country right now.
Last night Indianapolis was under a 10-hour curfew. We live far from where the violence and destruction was on Friday and Saturday nights, but it was still eerie to have all the restaurants and stores around the corner from our house close early to allow everyone to get home before 8:00. There was some traffic after 8:00, but it was certainly much lighter even compared to the reduced traffic of the past two months.
Indy got off light. There were a couple downtown banks and shops busted open, a few small fires. Minor compared to many other cities around the country.
It was very difficult not to follow the demonstrations around the country and not get emotional about it. Violence, destruction, looting is never the correct path. And I realize it is often two very distinct groups who are doing the peaceful protesting and the more violent acts. But I understand the motivation.
The George Floyd murder was just the latest and most egregious example of law enforcement using unreasonable and deadly force when dealing with Black men in this country. We’ve been seeing the videos for years, and before everyone had a phone in their hand we heard the stories for decades. But far too many white people wrote those stories off as exaggerations or outright lies. Others assumed that there had to be an act before the cameras started recording that justified the police’s acts. I think it’s this third group that bothers me the most. That view supports the idea that police can take any actions they want against a perceived criminal, even if those actions aren’t in proportion to the alleged crime. “Well, he had a criminal past and he was running, what do you expect?”
Plenty of white people sympathized, but none of us did enough to counter the racists, overt or covert, who twisted these incidents into opportunities to give the police more weapons rather than the public more protections. Or the politicians who look at the violence that came after the act and view it as the real problem, not the actions that caused the violence. Or the Thin Blue Line fanatics who forget that in a free society the police do not serve as judge, jury, and executioner out on the streets.
I don’t know what the answer is. It really feels like this country is broken, has been for some time, and we just keep getting worse. Plus we have a president who will use this as a gigantic wedge to anger the people he thinks will get him reelected, who will punish those who need help, who will reward those who took lives, who will somehow place blame on people who have zero responsibility but have the nerve to speak against him. Hell, it’s already starting. We can only hope that it backfires and is yet another epic failure in his presidency that will bring it to a resounding end next January.
As much as I want to believe a new president will change things, I don’t think it will make a huge difference. New elected officials may take over and implement new policies, but you can’t force people to be empathetic, and, as I’ve said before, I think empathy is on its last legs in this country.
It seems impossible for people to look at someone different than them and understand what their lives are like. White people and people of color. Men and women. Citizens and immigrants. Republicans and Democrats. Mask wearers and non-mask wearers. Someone with a different perspective is meant to be marginalized until they have no voice or power. We see it in everything from our legislatures to social media to youth league sports to the line at your grocery store. Everyone seems pissed off at everyone else, and if we can quickly identify a difference between us, we immediately turn it into a racial/political/gender fight.
We’ve told our girls over-and-over that it’s fine not to like people, it’s fine to be upset with someone else’s behavior, it’s ok to think someone is a jerk. But that’s all they are, a jerk. They aren’t a Black jerk or a gay jerk or a Mexican jerk.
I’m a cynic by nature, but I also often believe in a hopeful future. The arc of history bending toward social justice and such. That belief has fueled me through other tense moments in our nation’s history.
I’m not sure we are capable of overcoming all this hate, especially when so many elements of our society seem focused on glorifying our divisions to generate clicks, likes, favs, views, and votes.
I would love to be proven wrong. I would love it if I never see another video of police, or random strangers, killing Black men for no reason. I would love it if politicians realize it is better for our country to find areas of common ground rather than using scorched earth techniques that are focused more on destroying their opponents than governing. I would love it if social media companies didn’t hide behind the false flag of neutrality and took some responsibility for what is posted on their platforms. I would be fucking thrilled if white people in power didn’t think it was bad for business or would cost them votes to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.
Maybe the summer of 2020, which is off to a horrible start, will shake something loose and we’ll find a way to start getting along again.
Sadly, I think things are going to keep getting worse.