Police: This, Not That

I inhabit this space between two worlds. I have White police family members and friends. I have Black friends. I also have clients of all colors, with many careers. As a minister, I see good and evil as categories. As a therapist, I see, often, how good and evil start in family systems and in communities of addiction which taint judgement in so many was. Some of these are different. Some are the same.

Some basic assumptions, before I start:

  • There is good and evil in the world.
  • Police believe it is their job to keep evil people from the good people. This is a noble goal.
  • Police often decide who they believe are good and those who are evil,
  • Police are often called specifically to make that decision.
  • Police officers believe in law and order. They see their job as enforcing the law and thus keeping order. They do not write the law, they enforce it.
  • I suspect that that policing is also a numbers game. “Good” police are supposed to enforce the law so many times in a certain period to prove they’re doing their job.
  • In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.
  • In addition to that, there are lawmakers who decide what is crime and what isn’t crime.
  • Because the system of policing and laws are made by human beings, there is the possibility of bad/evil laws made by bad/evil lawmakers.
  • Because the system of police is made up of human beings, there is thBecause the system of policing and laws are made by human beings, there is the possibility of bad/evil laws made by bad/evil lawmakers.
  • Because society is made up of human beings, any given member of society can be anywhere on the spectrum between good and bad.
  • We have to live together.

Here’s where it gets muddy: If the good police are enforcing bad laws, are they really good police? Also, if there are bad police, and there are, are the police as a whole good?

Here’s what I know from my Black friends and life in the city:

  • Most Black people are decent, kind, hardworking people. They just are.
  • They go to church on Sundays, they believe in God. Those that don’t are deeply affected by those who do, because so many do.
  • In addition, many people — Black and White — practice Islam. Islam, like Christianity, has a moral code at its base.
  • In other words, Black people, like White people, are most often good, decent people who know right from wrong, and try to do right. This is my experience. From my perception, it is fact.
  • Many (most?) White people don’t know, as friends, Black people. In short, they don’t actually know any Black people. This means that what they do know is based on media reports, rumors, myths, and stories about Black people, told or seen by White people.

Unknown to most White people, (because most White people don’t make laws) there’s a reason for this. The reason is because there were laws made so that Black people couldn’t live in the same area as Whites. In California, there were also laws made that said Asians couldn’t live with Whites. This type of lawmaking is known as “redlining”. Like everything else, it’s not based in actual experience of the Black community, because, as I said, the Black community is basically good, decent, hardworking people, who know right from wrong and try to live decent lives.

So, if police just enforce the law, and it’s a bad law, are they good or bad for doing their job? If White police have to make judgement calls about who is a criminal and who’s not, but all they know about Black people is what they’ve seen on TV, read about, or heard from other Whites, how can they even do their job? It’s a set-up, bound for failure.

So, this week, for the millionth time, White police officers enforced the law on a Black person they couldn’t know personally. For what seems to be the hundredth time this year, they killed or wounded that Black person. Is it any wonder?

There has got to be a better way to do this. Maybe it involves having police know the people they are policing. That means living in their communities, or maybe knowing Black people outside of work, or having Black police officers policing Black communities.

Maybe it involves less firearms (Brits don’t use guns, and they still have law and order. By firearms, I include tanks, armored vehicles, assault weapons, etc. Maybe the general society shouldn’t have as many firearms. Maybe we shouldn’t worship guns as what make us free.

Maybe it involves electing more lawmakers who actually know Black people in their daily lives and wouldn’t dream of separating people by color.

In any case, this can’t go on. Lack of understanding combined with bad laws can only lead to more chaos in our streets. Blaming problems on people you don’t know won’t solve anything. If you want peace and quiet, this isn’t the way to get it. Good people that we don’t know are getting killed, and they are sick of it, because they should be.

Resisting with Peace,

John

There Can Be No Words. There Can Only Be Actions.

I’m listening to the news on MSNBC. I’m reading the news on theTwitter battlefield. As the news comes in, it seems that in Trump’s own words, as the dismantling of the Post Office happens, WE ARE IN TROUBLE AS A DEMOCRACY.

Think of me what you will, think about politics as you will, be on the Right Wing or the Left Wing, be in politics or not, think this is a hoax, or slanted or not. I don’t care if you’re a FOX News watcher or not. I don’t frankly care if you are even a criminal, or a White Supremacist. What we think anymore, what we believe anymore mean absolutely nothing. OUR DEMOCRACY IS IN TROUBLE.

What do I mean by Democracy? I mean “a government by the people, for the people”. How do we get that? We vote. We say who we want to represent us, and they do, to the best of their abilities. But what if there is no vote? What if there is no way to believe the vote? What if the President doesn’t care what the vote is? That part, the simple basic bedrock of democracy, that is being threatened, and we must stop it.

The only thing there can be is action. Now. There is no one in a position of power coming to save us. We can argue in court. That will not help. As long as we are arguing, no matter where or how, Trump remains in office. We can call on the President’s supporters in the Senate to break with him. That will not help. If they were coming, they would have been here by now. This is it. It’s us and democracy.

If you think for a minute you’re immune because you are conservative, White, Republican, male, or anything else, forget it. Yesterday, Trump said, on Fox News that he “hoped Bill Barr wouldn’t be too politically correct to not pursue” the people he thinks almost prevented him from getting into office. Bill Barr is so far on Trump’s side, they damn near inhabit the same body! If he worries about him being “too politically correct”, where does that leave you? It leaves you (and yes, me) nowhere. No one will every be good enough for Trump.

So, what do we do? We find every person in Congress who isn’t in Washington and we send them back to Washington to pass support for the Postal Service. Remember the days of surrounding them in restaurants and camping out at their houses? We need to do that now. Perhaps we need to start with Mitch McConnell’s house, but every single person in Congress needs to be in Congress to do our will, and they need to do it now.

What is our will? I don’t know, but I would start with us not dying from the virus, either directly or indirectly. We need a package that plans to stop the virus as best we can, that takes care of us if we can’t or don’t go back to work. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness” starts with life. We have to get this thing under control in time for the election.

At the same time, we need an election to go to. We need to vote, however we do. If votes are mailed in, we need to have the government supply the post office with what they need. The head of the post office needs to be removed or kept out of the way so that those votes get to their proper places. If need be, we have to help deliver the ballots ourselves.

When the ballots arrive at where they will be counted, we need all kinds of poll watchers to make sure they are counted correctly. Any Secretary of State who limits the number of places to vote needs to be hounded until they put them back or increase the numbers of them available. Anyone who lies about where polls are or when the day and time to vote is must be arrested immediately. This cannot stand.

When the votes are tallied, we should expect a week or more until the votes are counted. Poll watchers and counters must be there until all of the votes are tallied, and final numbers given. Then, and only then, can we take the pressure off. We can rest a few months and then, assuming Trump has been voted out, we can prepare for his leaving.

You know what? This and the coronavirus may be kill us. If he gets voted in, well, there is no America left, as far as I can tell. We might as well be dead anyway. Or maybe with a new Senate, or at least a fair one, we can balance out his power. If we’re going to go down, we have to go down swinging. But, in any case, let us get through the election with all that we have got. Then, we can figure it out from there.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Dancing In The Streets! Kamala Harris as VP!

“Calling out around the world! Are you ready for a brand new beat? Summer’s here and the time is right/ for dancing in the streets!”

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! For such a moment as this, Kamala Harris is the ideal Vice President! For the first time in years-that-seem-like-decades, I am happy! Thrilled beyond measure! I have all but given up on America under Trump. The man has so many faults that a whole team of Democrats were required to offer the antidote to the illness that is Trump and Trump-ism.

Joe Biden is a good man. I have never doubted that, and I never will. The endorsement by Barack Obama of Biden was good enough for me. But I believed it before Obama made his case, because Biden is an actual person. Is Biden a great man? I don’t know that he’s ever claimed to be. That’s why he has been so hard for Trump to pin him down.

What Trump calls “sleepy” is what criminals call “boring”. They see no future in honesty and hard work, or suffering and growth. As citizens, we Americans have believed in “get paid a lot for doing no work because you deserve more than others” (see Kim Kardashian) as a model to aspire to. Donald Trump is the icon of that worldview.

Biden’s not an icon. He’s just a guy who does his job to the best of his abilities, with a good, if flawed heart. Biden is not a one-dimensional image. He’s a humble, decent man who makes mistakes like a real human being does — at work, in the midst of real life. Trump is an image, the guy who got to say, “You’re fired!”, who hasn’t really worked honestly a day in his life. Like Kardashian, he is “reality TV”, not most people’s lived reality. Trump doesn’t know what to do with that.

But back to Kamala: she’s “young, gifted and black” to quote Nina Simone. We need all of that right now. The moment when we welcome more of America to be an actual part of America, when we move closer toward a more inclusive America requires new, fresh ideas from the younger present and future of our democracy. Harris will know a Tik-Tok from an Instagram and will not be threatened by either the White establishment or Black Lives Matter. She will bring experiences that no other VP has ever had, closer to the experience that half of the population has.

Yes, she’s a woman. Does that make her a better leader? It doesn’t make her a worse one. After nearly 250 years of male leadership, I think it’s time to at least try a woman’s leadership. No one has said of her, or any woman candidate, “she’ll try to kill 150,000 people with her incompetence”. It’s a low bar, yes, but we put it there.

In her sleep, without even getting out of bed, Harris is a better leader than Trump or the soulless sycophant we have now. Could she do worse? Could any woman? They’d have to work really hard to come close to it. And for those right-wing people who will say, “she hates America”, she hates Russia more.

Finally, and this is my favorite part, Harris believes in the Rule of Law. Bill Barr and his tories, who believe the President is King, and doesn’t believe that “government derives its power from the governed” has met his match. Harris believes in law as we had it, and she believes in justice as we might have it, with better laws enacted. Bill Barr and Trump’s criminal cronies can see the writing on the wall. They should be scared, as we search for justice for so many who have been wronged.

To sum up, Goodness, humanity, and justice by the actual people who make up most of America, are the combination that Biden and Harris bring to the future and, for the first time in a long while, I want to go there.

Resisting with Peace, and hope for justice,

John

Things That Should Make You Say “Duh!”

As Biden prepares to make his decision for a female Vice President, sexism is rearing it’s ugly head. It’s a really stupid idea. Pitting Black women against White women, pitting women against each other, pitting lesbians against straight women, are all just political games still played by men (and possibly conservative women, I suppose) who don’t really believe in any woman in power.

Let’s just start with the premises that 1) Women are capable leaders. 2) Any woman being considered for the office are more worthy than the man they will replace 3) The person Biden should select needs, most importantly, to love people and love democracy and have the intellect to know how to do those things well.

A Black woman is just as competent as a White woman as an Asian woman as a Hispanic woman . It’s not the color of their skin that matters, it’s their intellect and ability to be just, and their ability to think on their feet that matters.

“Inexperienced”, people will say. Nobody else has ever done the job before in the setting they will face. In other words, no one else has experience in that particular job either.

PART 2

We have a problem, Houston… and Miami, and Los Angeles, and so on, and so on. The virus is not under control. Until the virus is under control, the economy will not be under control. Until the virus is under control, travel to other countries won’t happen. Until the virus is under control it won’t be safe to go to church. Until the virus is under control, “normal “ connection with others will not be safe. Until the virus is under control, no, children should not be in school.

If you want any of the above things to happen, not wearing a mask isn’t going to get you there. If you want any of the above things to happen, not having PPE won’t get us there. If you want any of the above things to happen, not having testing available is not going to get us there. Neither is not having reagents. Neither is not having quick turnaround tests. Neither is speeding up a vaccine for political reasons. Neither is having an unsafe vaccine.

In short, we are f…..ed until we get the virus under control. Like it or not, believe it or not, we are just all kinds of f….ed until this virus is under control.

Amazingly to some people in Congress, people will still need to eat until the virus is under control. They will still need to have a place to live until the virus is under control. They will still need medical care. They will still income. And so what if we pay them to stay home? If going to work is going to kill them or cause long-term harm to them or their families, why would you want them to go work? Also, if companies don’t want to keep their employees safe, they are responsible for causing their employees illnesses until the virus is over.

Regarding the virus, it’s a “pay me now or pay me later” situation. Either deal with it and prevent deaths or not deal with it and cause deaths.

PART 3

Houston, we have a solution… I’s fairly simple in economic terms, moral terms, and political ones as well. Respect each other. Care for each other. Consider yourself responsible for people around you. Put people before profits. If you have more money than any human should, start spending it on more people than yourself.

And regarding these things, I mean all people. I don’t mean “people that look like you” or people that think like you” or “people you know personally”. I especially don’t mean “people of your social class”. Yes, care about all people. Respect all people. If we did that, we’d still have the virus, but it wouldn’t be out of control. If the virus were under control, and we considered everyone to be valuable, parts 1 and 2 wouldn’t even be issues.

Resisting with Peace,

John