In a parable, things aren’t always what they seem. There is always more than what is actually said. Its a short story with multiple layers of meaning.
So, what does the life and the event surrounding the hapless shooting of a 12 year old boy say about America? About the police? About fear? About power? About fetishizing guns? A lot actually!
What does it say about America?
America is not ‘America’. When someone uses the word America, for many, it conjures up the idea of a unified people. It’s the same for almost any country. The name of the country, in one sense, assumes a lot about the people that inhabit it. Especially our country. That it somehow embodies the closest ideas to our spiritual zeal for utopia; I’ve spent a lot of time in other countries, and some people covet this country for that presupposed exaggeration. Because, lets be honest, America doesn’t embody its own ideals.
It tries, but lately, its failed a lot more than not. And we have a responsibility to hold it accountable, especially if that label represents us as individuals and a corporate body of people. In the last few years with the rise of civil-war like violence, America has become embarrassing; as a country, in terms of its history, its a teenager. Right now, it seems like its throwing a tantrum. America has fallen from grace. We have a lot of work if we are divided on the fact that a 12-year old boy was shot by a police officer.
This division poses a false-dichotomy, as if we should be forced to choose who is right and who is wrong, and those are important distinctions, but, there is something hiding in plain sight that we miss by choosing these sides, and that is, as a country, we still haven’t grown up. We still are at the family table fighting over who is going to get the most toys. We are narcissistic and self-preserving, that’s what Tamir’s life reminds us, that we would rather care about the illusion of safety rather than life itself.
About the Police?
Now, I am just going to come out and tell you where I stand on this, I am an Anarchist. No, not the stereotypical “let’s go blow things up” kind of anarchists, that’s a completely wrong understanding of the idea. In this context, its the removal of mediation. For me, this means, we don’t need the police to police us, or give us some false sense of safety. I spent time in the military, I know very similar lines of ideology that hide itself as justification. As in, we need them so they can preserve our freedoms and we should just be blindly grateful for their sacrifices and so on. This is completely the wrong way to see this. We put them there. We hired them. We started the police. They weren’t there before the human race. What does it say that we still need them? That we believe we are incapable of inherent goodness? Or that we are all naturally pieces of ontological shit that we can’t ever learn? Well, it does say that if we keep them around. We need to get better at adopting new strategies as we are learning to still become human. Like care. Like responsibility. Compassion. Intersubjective alliances toward bettering ourselves. No, we need to get better at policing ourselves. It’s a sad day when the people we agreed to be in charge of our safety become the very enemies of it. It means we need to rethink not just the police but also the whole justice system they are a part of, especially when they can go free from shooting a 12-year old boy.
What about Fear?
What is fear but if not the objectification and the centering of an idea, a loss, a person, a thing right smack dab in the middle of our lives; much like a god who tells us what to do? Fear seems prevalent today in America. Almost like a religion. People would rather live in the possibility of danger rather than the possibility of the freedom that so many are shouting about. But, the last thing you experience when you choose fear, is freedom. It tells you to criminalize. It tells you who to hate. Who to love. Why we need to get rid of ‘them’. It creates all kinds of mechanised webs that defend your own world-views. Fear is the enemy here. It separates, it divides and it conquers the very thing that demands it attention.
What about Power?
Holding a gun. Being a police officer. Having status. These all represent forms of power. Power has the insane potential to corrupt quite easily. It does. It has. And it is. When we give our power to the government, we let them control every facet of our existence. We give it to them. They choose what to do with that power. They define it. They, they, they.
What about Guns?
We need to stop fetishizing guns. They don’t make us happy. They represent the very opposite of what we want by having them. They don’t create safety, they enforce it, they demand it, they are objects that give us the illusion of safety, not safety itself. If we need to wield guns to feel safe, then were we safe in the first place? Our culture is a culture of the gun. We have completely misunderstood and misappropriated the American Constitution, when historically, the second amendment was referring to a musket, in a different time, about a different war. Not now. We don’t actually NEED guns. We’ve made ourselves think we do. There are whole countries who do much better without them.
These aren’t easy issues. This article isn’t meant to be the answer, but begin a conversation that exists beyond the divide of a simplistic right or wrong. So, how do we do it? How can we create a better America? There’s still time, I think.
PS. Lookout we are going to be talking about this on my next Periscope!