Sunday, July 10, 2016

We Be Bait

There is a spiritual crisis affecting America and resulting in the spate of killings we've been seeing, and it's not a loss of faith in a supreme being nor is it a degeneration of morals and values, as some pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows would have it.

The spiritual crisis is the loss of common identity with our fellow humans.  All the talk I hear on the television and all the opinions I read on the internet talk about "police" and "civilians,"  "blacks" and "whites," "liberals" and "conservatives,"  "gun restriction advocates" and "second amendment supporters," "straights" and "LGBT," and even "men" and "women."

As if we weren't all Americans, or more to the point, human beings, or even more broadly, sentient beings.

The unawakened mind wants to divide everything up into smaller and smaller pieces, and then we mistake those arbitrary divisions of our minds as natural divisions that actually exist in reality. And then we choose to defend one side or the other, which often means criticizing or even attacking the other side, sometimes violently.  

An expression of compassion for the poor, unfortunate, and eminently undeserving policemen who got shot last week in Dallas is usually taken as a protest against the Black Lives Matter movement, and an expression of support for the Black Lives Matter movement is interpreted by many as a provocation and threat against the police.  

At the risk of sounding like Rodney King ("Can't we all just get along?"), can't we acknowledge that there is a problem with the recent killings of dozens of men of color at the hands of a few bad policemen, and at the same time mourn the loss of some good, hard-working policemen who had nothing to do with those killings?

Our sense of identity is based on a separation from others, and if we identify ourselves by our separateness (see "American exceptionalism"), or others by their separateness (see "illegal immigrants"), we'll never find common ground. 

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