Coming to the close of 2015, the kinder, gentler America seems to have given way to America the Mean.Without a doubt, the events of this year have sealed the deal. 2015 is The Year of Mean. Far from the love, peace and harmony generation, the mean team has taken the field in America.
Consider the statistics from this year. On August 8, 2015, The Washington Post reported 585 people were shot by police officers across the country this year. That’s close to 75 people per day and there are still about 100 days left in 2015.
In the first seven months of 2015, it was reported by that same article in The Washington Post, that on average, an unarmed black man was fatally shot every nine days this year through the month of August. These numbers are startling but nothing is being done to curb the atmosphere of animosity.
Recent demonstrations with crowds carrying signs and chanting ‘black lives matter’ at the authorities has fueled the flames of more mean actions, not quenched them. All lives matter.Reasonable people know that the police are an integral part of American society. Maintaining mutual trust and confidence between citizens and their police force is good sense and essential to keep law and order in our streets.
But, the air remains charged with tension in many American communities this year. There is an uneasy, unsettled, feeling that leaves the feeling of stepping through mine fields when walking in the city streets, for citizens and authorities alike.
The events making the news only serve to emphasize how much communication has diminished and how a basic lack of appreciation for police protection or their authority has increased. In some cities, on the other side of the equation, concerned citizens have begun to rally in support of local police.
Both Aurora and Denver had events to show community support for the police earlier this month after a 911 call made threats against police. Most people believe that police officers are only doing their jobs, yet many complain they are not performing very well.
Police shows on television have convinced the public that police officers are highly trained in various methods to subdue suspects, but, in an adrenaline filled atmosphere of confrontation with an unarmed black man, it seems officers are too quick to employ the fatal shot as their most persuasive tactic.
2015 has become a time when both the police officer and the citizen go into the contact situation with heightened reactions that are becoming more violent because of their hate or fear of the other. It is an established fact that in mean 2015, in even with the most simple traffic stop; if a police officer makes contact with an unarmed black man, both of them approach the situation more apprehensive, both more on guard, their hearts pounding with increased trepidation.
It’s possible both of them are likely thinking the same thing. How can I get out of this alive? In the majority of cases, only one of them has a gun and the right to use it.
Walter Scott, the 50 year old unarmed black man who was stopped a few months ago by Michael Slager, a former South Carolina Police Officer who was working security, was fatally shot in the back, during a traffic stop for having no tail light on his vehicle. Report another unarmed black man shot.
Recently, an Olympia Washington officer shot two unarmed black men who were suspected of stealing beer from a supermarket. An illegal turn in Wellston, Missouri led to police stopping the car and shooting an unarmed black man in front of a 5 year old child.
In Madison, Wisconsin, based on calls to the station, police forced their way into an apartment and resultantly another unarmed black man is shot. He was in a drug induced state and behaving erratically according to reports.
Even a naked, unarmed black man, an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan, was not spared. Despite this man’s obvious state of distress, with no weapon, he could not be subdued or restrained by Georgia police, in order that he could receive the help he obviously needed. Another unarmed black man shot to death.
For certain, there are circumstances where an officer must use deadly force to stop a suspect. In each situation, there is that moment where a split second decision will mean life or death for one of them. When only one of them has a gun, there is a grave responsibility for that person to choose well.
A mean spirit of anger, retaliation or fear can interfere with good judgement on both sides of any issue. 2015 has been the year of mean. Race relations continue to plummet. America is facing enemies from inside our borders and out.
What is perceived as mean and ugly treatment by persons of authority has led to mean and ugly treatment against persons of authority. Violence has been pervasive in America this year. The leading Republican candidate for President has said some very mean things about women and he remains the leading Republican candidate. Communities are choosing sides in this mean regime.
Beware. It is open season for mean spirited people to do their worst. The Washington Post article on August 8, 2015 reports that there are 24 cases currently pending before the courts involving police shootings of unarmed black men.
The American melting pot of humanity is overflowing with mean beans (human beings) and is ready to boil over. Is there a solution that will take the mean spiritedness out of our communities and unite Americans before we destroy ourselves and our country?
All the legislation against discrimination and promoting of equal opportunity policies over the years has not done it. These are some of the things that have created a sense of resentment and ‘white backlash.’in many communities.
Having a man of color in the White House has not helped the cause of race relations at all.The election of Barack Obama for a second term was more like kindling for the fire than salve for the wounds.
During the visit of Pope Francis to America last week, the news reports showed large crowds of thousands of people joined together in harmony. They gathered together to see the Holy Father, looking for peace in the world and there were no reports of police brutality or bomb threats. What made the difference? Were there violent incidents that just did not make the news during the Pontiff’s visit?
The Pope reminded Americans to believe in our American dream again. We were encouraged to continue to work together for the day when Americans are known for their kindness and dedication to each other.Without being prompted by some horrible disaster, Americans should be known for their steadfast support of life.
Optimistically, there is a solution where America will become the ideal society everyone desires, where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is truly available for everyone within our borders. Americans won’t stop until we find a way to strengthen the unity in our country.
Or, perhaps the arrival of aliens from another universe, who want to ravage our world of its resources, take over our minds and harvest the energy of all humankind will unite us.
Which is a bigger fantasy?