Probably like a lot of people, I've been sad the past couple weeks. Maybe sad isn't the right word. Not quite weary, perhaps closer to down. Similar to the weeks after tragedy, where things go on but are not the same.
Our country, which has been my employer for the past 11-years, seems at a crux. In four months we'll be voting for a president that almost no one will be happy with. That process feels rigged. Trump isn't a Republican and Clinton isn't a Democrat. And though we all know the system needs to be fixed, having candidates that don't align with our beliefs is not the way to do so. Ex. there is no way Trump is pro-life. Ex. there is no way Clinton understands - and can therefore be with - the plight of the marginalized. (Ex.'s used because of their traditional alignment to the two major parties.)
Politically, our only hope is a third party. (Personally, I think we need Oprah).
But the issue of race is what causes my sadness. My wife is African-American, and Philando Castile looked and acted a lot like her brother, my brother-in-law. I've never seen her as sad as she was watching the video and news in the aftermath. I consider myself pretty verbal, and had nothing to say. Words escaped me, and all I could do is feel.
And as a white guy, it's hard to know how to feel. It's obvious the laws are on my side, and I rarely feel in danger, and never in danger by/from police. I don't have the constant stress I've heard African-Americans proclaim. All I can do is listen, and try the best I can to empathize, or at least sympathize.
The shootings all over the news, both mass and racial and counter-racial cause a lot of general disease. The Castile video is continuously haunting.
As I process, though, I also feel hope. Similar to the feelings in wake of 9/11, where people were a bit friendlier because we knew everything was about to change. I've been consciously aware of saying hello to people (especially A.A.s), complimenting things that need compliments, and have witnessed dozens of compliments to my wife; including one onslaught of teens throwing them out in a fashion similar to the last day of youth camp. They started with her dress, moved to her hair, and then to her personhood, including a loud, "You're really pretty" as the kids shut the door and drove away.
Last night, my wife hosted an event at the Yankee Clipper Library on race relations in good ole Grand Rapids, MI, and there was intentional conversations afterword, among people of different races, to say things like, "We're in this together" or "We're on the same side".
Conversation and questions stemmed around comparisons of racial relations and riots of the 1960's and today. After, a comment that sunk with me is that the lines are not so clearly divisive. A group of white kids that attacked a group of black kids, or a group of black kids that attacked a group of white kids would be looked at, by everyone, as racist and bigoted. The blanket attack, based simply on hue would see by everyone with a social conscious and general wherewithal as a step back.
Fans of music and sports cannot have blanket views on race. How can you hate all ______ people, when they are all on a sports team that's logo you proudly wear on your chest, hat, or shorts many days of the year. If you like music, inevitably you like songs and artists of races that are not yours, and a mass attack on race would mean that I could be pitted v. LeBron James. (Other than getting my ass kicked, I'd never oppose a team he was on).
To me, these things matter.
My hope is that we can be honest and appreciative. I hope in the wake of these tragedies, we can have open and honest conversation. Guilt is not helpful. Blame is not helpful. We obviously need police, and no one with half a brain would refute that. We also need equality and understanding. We need love and acceptance. And these things start with each of us.
Love and acceptance, deep combs of our view of Other, these things can happen internally. Steps can be taken each day and hour. Let them begin.