There’s a lot of taking sides going on right now. Wether we are looking at issues from the upcoming presidential election, to Black Lives Matter, to the huge misunderstanding of Islam (and other religions) around the world- we are being forced to take a side and stick to it. Strongly. Often rather verbally and on social media too. Of course everyone has an opinion, but how is stating it over and over again on social media helpful? This separates us even further and can be counter productive.
Yes, there are many social issues that need to be addressed. Yes, the Black Lives Matter movement needs to be recognized and acknowledged, not downplayed. When a specific group of people is targeted and suffering, we need to acknowledge that group and that it is happening (applies to racism, genocide, ect). When thousands of people are angry around the country and protesting against the treatment of black people, we better pay attention. That means that something is wrong and we should listen.
That doesn’t mean that all cops are bad or racist, however there is an underlying issue of institutionalized racism in the US. My point is to avoid extremism, in all areas, be it religious extremism- all religions have great things to offer, and people that hurt others in the name of religion- political, and racial extremism- it’s not productive or rational. Instead of taking a side, why don’t we focus on the solution? Can we improve relations between the black community and law enforcement? How can we do that?
Michael Jordan recently donated a chunk of money to help improve and mediate the relationships between police and black communities. Maybe other individuals and organizations could step in too? Are there support groups for people that experience police brutality and race discrimination? Whose communities have been torn apart by riots, negative media attention, and tragedy as the community in Ferguson, MO was? How can we support communities where tension is mounting so it doesn’t get to the point of riots and protests gone awry?
Do we want to pick a side or find a solution? Think about it. Finding a solution is harder. Maybe we get so stuck on our side and proving our point of view is ‘right’ that we can’t see a solution or a common ground. Ultimately, we need progressive change and that will be accomplished by people working together, not pointing fingers and blaming others. It starts with listening, acknowledging, supporting, not making excuses, blaming, and pretending like the problem doesn’t exist.
An individual alone might not be able to fix the problem, but there is power in movements when groups of people come together. Can we have productive dialogue about how to move forward and create unity? Perhaps empathy is the first step to understanding and collaborating. Let’s fix the problem and not create more.