Walks help me make sense of the world that I live in. There happens to be a dairy farm roughly a mile away. It resides at the top of a hill, providing the passersby with a view of mountaintops, blue skies, and panoramic sunsets.
The dairy also has cows. Cows make sense to me. They spend large amounts of time outdoors, they are not fazed by much, and they like to be surrounded by grass. Look at that one. Does it seem troubled or disturbed? I argue, no. It chews and minds its business.
That is about how I handle protests and social unrest. I fear I am too wired to sin by silence. I tried protesting once and did not really see the point.
I am the stoic one. The cow at the side of the road. Others get worked up and take to the streets. I keep my head level and hope that people will treat each other with kindness.
There is also the exact opposite approach. Some attempt to make vandalism and destruction win the day. On Friday night, people grabbed trash can lids and such and threw them through our store windows.
I do not see the point. Our store is not linked to the police. We will sell groceries to anyone that picks them off the shelves. If they are trying to draw attention to their cause, it could be argued that they succeeded. Though it hardly ranks with setting municipal buildings on fire. People from the neighborhood were taking pictures. Does that make the protests the talk of the town?
For all I know, it could have been those with no agenda other than mayhem. They hear of unrest, they rush out into the world, and they wreak havoc. “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” There are people that want to be angry without aiming for social change. This could have been them.
I am a pacifist. I have never gotten into a physical fight. I have smacked a coworker upside the head, but I maintain that it was in an instructive manner. (I was also consumed with guilt afterwards.) I do not believe that they who leave the most marks on their opponents are the victor.
However, a very wise woman told me something in college. “There is a difference between being a pacifist and being pacified.” If I see bad things happen, I should … what? How should I respond? That is my question.
I like first responders. I appreciate those that are willing to put themselves between us and harm’s way. However I do not want anyone shot on my account. I certainly do not want anyone to restrict a suspect’s breathing until they die from suffocation.
I believe that God created everyone; that God loves everyone. I should do the same. Treating a race or group poorly goes against that. So no, I do not think that black people should be roughed up by police officers. At the same time, I do not think that police officers are all violent dirt bags.
I pray for peace a lot. Mostly it is on a national scale. Whoever is President, I pray for them to find peace. That our country will embrace peace. That other countries caught in constant conflict might embrace peace and cease their warring. I am not searching for a winner, I am hoping for an end to the conflict.
I do not have the same life experiences that others do. I have seen testimonies where people leave their homes and spend the day trying not to draw attention to themselves. If they are not noticed, they will not be arrested. There are classrooms where teachers have to instruct their charges how to leave police interactions. “Comply with them. Then ask if you are free to go.”
All this is coming from a white person with a comfortable existence. I am middle class, my town is quiet, and I have yet to be pulled over. I understand that others do not get off this easily. I also understand that clicking an emoticon on someone’s suffering or cause does not fix things. I know that bringing attention to injustice is a start, but that action is still needed.
The current instances leave me feeling inept. I could contact my representatives, but the incidents are outside of their jurisdiction. And the acts are already illegal. One does not get to kill someone who is complying with a search. One does not get to murder a suspect. We should all agree that those charged to “serve and protect” must not abuse and murder.
Cows lick themselves like a cat. I had no idea. Yet, that is what I saw. One cow, irritated by its hindquarters; licking away. That is how I feel. Like I am tending only to my own needs while important things are going on. The crows are cawing angrily, the rabbits are running back and forth, but the cows and I are slow to react. Ironic that, “having a cow” is linked to herd animals that are not easily spurred to action. They only react when tipped over; when their own way of life is encroached upon.
I have no cud to chew, so I bite my tongue. I bide my time. I stand on the sidelines and assess. I wait to see if there is a clear action I should take. I worry that my inaction is making things worse while believing that leaping in without understanding is the worst choice of all. I keep praying for peace. I tell my coworkers of all races and backgrounds that I love them. I wonder if instead of going on walks, I should go on marches. I see the rage, feel the betrayal, and hope that no one calls for us to angrily stampede.