In “Of Mice and Men,” Slim says, “Ain’t many guys travel around together … I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
In the harsh world of the migrant worker, an aphorism is born. One that casts a shadow on the human specie since the dawn of time. Are humans at their essence benevolent or selfish? Are they seeking to be their brother’s keeper, or are they hoping to quickly take that which their “brother” has?
Leading up to and subsequent to the verdict yesterday, I have heard moral arguments from both camps and both camps have validity. I think being in law enforcement would be one of the most difficult jobs to find a continuous equilibrium within. Everyday you are in a potential war zone. In some precincts you are encountering the worst of the worst every day. Never knowing if your life is on the line. Talk about stress! Is ever’body scared of one another? Probably…. And perhaps for good reason. Those officers go to work daily, trying to make their way through life. The things they see, encounter and have to quell are larger than most of us will ever encounter. They must live life with a certain quality of post traumatic stress that is indescribable. So can they be fully blamed for seeing the world through the filter of… Is this the person that is going to end my life at this moment? I would have to believe that that fear is so real and palpable as to change a personality over time. Lots of feature films on this topic.
Conversely, the systematic prejudice that stems from having a law enforcement community going to work with a daily knot in their stomachs over the fear that today is potentially the last day of their life, has gone so far as to put various ethnic minorities into a position of having to be terrified with the most rudimentary encounters with law enforcement. This, combined with racial prejudice has created a needless fear in the law-abiding citizenry who are just trying to fend their own way through life.
The society must continually work to evaluate processes, programs, causes, symptoms and ultimately the ramifications of the choices the prior generations have left for the current society to cope with, process and improve.
Given that the human specie is the most dangerous of all animals in the kingdom and more vicious than a wild bear, great white shark and a lion combined, we are continually trying to find balances between freedoms and valid controls that limit the freedom just enough to keep the majority of people safe.
It would appear that almost every day now there is another mass shooting. The United States continues to shrug and say that there is no solution to this, while most of the rest of the world are not dealing with it because of proper gun control measures.
If we do not start seeing the world like Slim and recognize that perhaps ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other, then we will never have a mass understanding of how and what can and must be done to protect the majority of the population from one another. There are no simple solutions. No question. But being ostriches and burying our collective heads in the sand is equally dangerous and harmful.
Public discourse that is productive, accurate, noninflammatory and meaningful is the only path out of this quagmire.