I was taught to fight with words because words become swords if we don’t use them.
It’s a Saturday and almost midnight. I can’t leave this alone, I’m driving myself crazy with too much thinking, too many ideas trip trap through my mind. That yesterday a seventeen year old killed two protesters with an AR- 15. I’m almost retired, and even now, I can’t imagine taking anyone’s life.
How could this happen? My gut tells me this kid was radicalized enough to wield disproportionate deadly force against fellow Americans - most of whom were protesting against perceived brutality in their communities.
On the other hand, some say the kid did nothing wrong. He defended himself and there’s video to prove it, I’ve watched them. But how and why -does a 17 year old get an assault rifle? Sensible gun laws should kick in long before we let emotionally immature teenagers have access to weapons; that -or we’re consenting to child soldiers in conflict zones.
Can’t get a drink in this town without being 21. Can’t even vote under 18 but guns? Pssh. Everyone has guns, it’s as American as apple pie. Apparently it’s only a misdemeanor for a minor to have guns. I didn’t know that.
What happened to the state having the monopoly on violence? Are we suggesting certain groups can be understood to be part of the state sanctioned monopoly? Because without state sanction, armed militias tread a very narrow legal line.
God help me I’m trying to work out the thinking process behind the armed militia on property patrol. They have been filmed shooting paint balls and pepper spray at the protesters, obviously looking for confrontation. They are well armed and apparently, willing to kill when confronted.
How long before they take it upon themselves to brutalize protesters? How long before they herd them into camps, into safekeeping? That’s how tyranny started in a country not too far away. After that it’s a hop, skip and a jump till we fire up the gas chambers. Have we come at last to another purification by fire and blood?
I feel like I’m in a dream. How can anyone protest when they’re not allowed to speak their minds? Wasn’t that football player vilified for taking a knee? Is there a prescribed way to protest? Is there a sanitized version that barely disrupts the flow of regular life? Something banal, quiet and easily ignored? There isn’t a government sanctioned way to protest that’s why, still, the cries of the hurt, the broken, the neglected and the unwanted are lost in the echoes of less than lethal rounds, tear gas and now paint-balls and pepper spray.
To be clear, I’m not supporting violence on either side. I was taught to fight with words because words become swords if we don’t choose between them. I learned debate and argument, preserved and protected by the first amendment is the civilized way to resolve dispute. Yet here we are, gunshots and fire light up the streets. We need to talk about this. We need to listen to the protests with heart. With empathy.
Iron fists and hobnailed boots will put the fire out in Kenosha but it will spring up along fault lines in everytown USA until it spills into the streets yet again. We have to listen. We must listen. We have to carefully consider what actions we can take to satisfy the needs of Americans on either side of the political divide.
I always fall back on the words of President Kennedy in times like these: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
I hope someone’s listening.
If you’re interested in my stream of thoughts as we endure lockdown, you can find part one here.