I have struggled over the last few months with determining what topic is most valuable and appropriate to consider here. I don't kid myself that I have devoted followers or regular readers but I do know of a few friends who have told me they like what I write, so I wanted to honor their commitment to my thoughts with something worth their time.
Every time I thought I had a topic picked out something new happened in the world or in my own life that informed my world and brought me back to square one of trying to decide what to discuss.
And then the events of Thursday, July 7 at roughly 9pm in downtown Dallas, my hometown and the city I currently call home, happened. And all the other topics I had been considering left my mind.
Now I don't believe that any recent tragedy that came before in the world has less significance then Thursday night. Rather in some ways I think those other terrible moments were a precursor, an affretando that led to a terrible crescendo culminating in the deaths of true heroes.
The ripple effects are being felt, starting with 50 arrested individuals in Minnesota who continued the protests after Thursday over the recent and past loss of lives at gunpoint. And it has continued with a woman who just today, when I tried to provide some information to her, told me I was not important enough to listen to. She was white and I am not going to pretend that for at least one moment I didn't take a particular kind of offense, one I would normally never deign to acknowledge when I have been confronted like this by anyone that does not share my government sanctioned ethnic distinction. (I hate the word Hispanic!)
I couldn't help but think in those first moments after my confrontation with her, which witnesses agree was totally one-sided and that I handled myself with grace and aplomb, that her behavior ne mentality is one of many on both sides of these partisan racial aisles we are creating for ourselves in this country, that led to Thursday night and the events that have preceded it. I'll also freely admit that when I went outside from where I had contact with this woman, I thought she might be waiting for me, hunkered down in her car with a gun. She is in the Air Force and I live in Texas, which has an open carry law. That so soon after Thursday I was personally confronted with these thoughts and fears, really has driven this post. That I was suddenly thrust into being so fearful and untrusting of law enforcement and white law enforcement at that, however briefly, has left an indelible mark. To combat that I have since spent time thinking about what might have that woman encountered in the moments before I met her or at some other time in her life for her to be so angry and react so aggressively to such benign information that ultimately is designed to keep her safe. What is she is so fearful of and unwilling to understand that she would react in such a way?
I don't know what the answer is. The further I moved away from this incident, the further I moved away from her race/ethnicity. I thought back to this morning. While driving from yoga class I thought that what the country could use is a giant group therapy session...collective town halls where we can try to discover what is really going on with us. Then after this encounter this afternoon I would emphatically posit that it's not about us not being able to understand each other, it's about us not being WILLING to understand each other.
That unwillingness is what breeds fear and that fear is what we have chosen to let direct our lives.
At the end of the day it is not about black or white or brown or any of the other colors, ethnicity, sexual or religious orientation or anything else that adds uniqueness and for lack of a better word, definition, to our lives.
I won't speak for anyone else but I believe it comes down to good and bad....good and bad don't have colors or gender or ethnicity or religious or political affiliation or sexual orientation. Good or bad is a choice. And while some of our political or religious choices might be influenced by family or other cultural environs, we absolutely can choose whether to be good or bad. I don't believe that are any influences strong enough to sway us from good to bad....in the end there is always only one choice and it is ours to make.
For those of us that choose to be good, there is only one question that requires our attention in these moments...