This began as a personal post on my FB page.. but, since it ends in my pledge to do what I think is right .. then I should be wiling to stand behind that pledge publicly and professionally.
It is MY belief.. and this is just me... and nothing is ever 100 percent..but I truly believe that there is a vast difference between rioting, and protesting, and I do not believe that the majority of those who are rioting.. care at all about Mr. Floyd, nor do they care about a "cause".. they are either acting out of outside motives that have nothing to do with a cause, or they are caught up in mob mentality.. quite possibly encouraged (and therefore used) by actors with an agenda (According to Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, every single person arrested in Saint Paul last night was from out of state.)
Picking up a dictionary, we find:
An expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid;
An organized public demonstration expressing strong objection to an official policy or course of action;
To give manifest expression to objection or disapproval; remonstrate;
To make solemn or earnest declaration;
A noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons;
A disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons acting together in a disrupting and tumultuous manner in carrying out their private purposes;
Violent or wild disorder or confusion.
It is my opinion, after watching the live broadcasts of the riots, that the people rioting.. the people burning buildings, the people scrawling graffiti and breaking windows and stealing bottles of vodka and 40-inch televisions and Nintendo games and jewelry to take home... are not doing so to express a desire ... a need.. for change, nor were they acting out of mourning for a good man's senseless murder.
There is no correlation between outrage at a horrific murder, and standing in a liquor store you just broke the windows to with a dozen of your friends, laughing and joking and guzzling booze while you livestream it. There is no correlation between wanting an end to senseless violence.. and blocking a street and dragging some unconnected motorist out of their car. There is no correlation between wanting an end to racist violence, and lighting on fire a building where musicians of all colors have gathered in joy and celebration.
Does coming home and kicking your dog ever make your boss treat you better at work? (and i can hear the comments now.. NO i am not calling white people the boss of black people and i am NOT comparing the killing of George Floyd to your boss being a jerk.. anyone that tries to make that assertion about this comment can take a flying leap right now... ) I simply believe there must be a correlation between action and intended outcome, that there must be at least a potential for progress.. even in the Boston Tea Party, which people keep referencing in relation to this, the tea destroyed was the specific and central issue of the problem.. the protest against the Townshend Act taken concrete form when the British-supporting Governor refused to let the ships containing this specific tea out of the harbor without paying the excise tax. The Sons of Liberty did not go destroy the local haberdashery, they did not light the blacksmith's shop on fire, they did not drink the tea, nor go steal the mead out of the commissary.
I simply do not think that the majority of the people that are rioting are doing so for the purpose of advancing a cause... they are doing so because of outside motives. NOR do i believe that rioting is a viable form of protest.. it answers injustice, with injustice.. and it simply doesn't work.. in fact, it is counterproductive.
THAT being said.. if "we" want to draw that distinction between a protest for a cause, and a riot for the purpose of personal gain and an excuse for violence, then "we" must stop getting our panties in a bundle about someone kneeling, about someone wearing a t-shirt that says something we don't like.. we need to stop gasping in outrage that someone dare suggest things are not all fuzzy slippers, pink houses and unicorn farts... and we need to LISTEN and we need to ACT.
So - again in my humble opinion, for what its worth - if things are going to change (and i believe a lot of things need to change) . then it needs to start. now.. today.. on both sides.
"We" are going to have to stand up.. even if it is standing up for something that makes us squirm.. it means DEMANDING change even when that change doesn't benefit, or even impact us.. .it means voting out District Attorneys and Sheriffs (regardless of political party) that don't hold accountable those who do wrong, even if that wrong didn't personally impact us.
It means taking disciplinary action (up to and including immediate dismissal) against our our employees (you know, those we hire in the voting booth and whose salaries we pay with our taxes) who do not do their job - that of passing legislation AND removal of inappropriate, unnecessary or unconstitutional legislation - in order to make the "laws of the land" represent the land we wish to live in.. for everyone.
It means biting our tongue when someone takes a knee during a song we hold as sacred, and not only holding our tongue, but sitting down next to them and asking them.. WHY are you doing this, and honestly Freaking listening to their answer. It means intentionally stepping outside of our comfort zone and walking into their world, to seek out understanding of their viewpoint and their plight, even though it seems foreign to our experience. It means caring equally about the rights of someone we don't agree with, as we do about the rights of someone who represents our interests. And it means expanding each of those actions above, beyond our "pet cause" and applying them to everyone and every circumstance. You can claim no moral high ground if you fight for rights and freedoms that are dear to you, and ignore those that inconvenience you or are irrelevant to you.
Equally, there must be a "move forward" pledge from both sides. Arguing that "we're angry because its been so bad in the past so we are going to do horrible things now and its justified" may feel good, it may even be "morally right" but it is NOT going to result in a solution.. If you care about the solution, you may have to swallow the "i deserve retribution" in order to get to the "we've got progress"
So that's my "1,000 foot view" .. but what does in mean as far as on-the-ground action?
I do not condone rioting as a method of protest... you can condemn me for that if you want.. but that is my hard line in the sand... BUT, I pledge to make a concerted effort to heed and hear other forms of protest, even if they offend me. And even more importantly.. I will actively protect their right to conduct those forms of protest.
I challenge you to do the same.