Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rational Debate

In light of the recent news reports, political pundits, protest riots, looting, and argumentative angst on both sides of the issue concerning the fatal shooting in Ferguson, I’ve tried to remain quiet and not respond emotionally.  I’ve listened to the various arguments and have tried to see things from all perspectives. I have to say I don’t get most of them – on either side of the issue.  I’m so sick of all the race baiting and bashing in this world. We are human beings – all of us, yet we sometimes act worse than the most rabid of animals.

I’ve been so frustrated without realizing why I’ve been frustrated.  I believe it’s due to the fact I’ve been unable to verbally express what’s been rolling around inside my mind and heart, because honestly I felt like it didn’t matter anyway and there was really no one that I could share my true thoughts and feelings.  Not because I don’t have anyone to listen, but I feel there are very few who CAN listen – hear me without bias, without prejudice, without judgment, without a PC or anti-PC or victim’s mentality who would try and stuff me into one of their preconceived boxes.  I’ll either be labeled a racist or fascist – instead of a rationalist. 

There really isn’t such a thing as a rational debate anymore – there’s a contest to see who can shout the loudest, who can incite the more powerful emotional response, and who is right or wrong.  It’s not about the issues anymore – because everyone is now a victim, everyone is now more concerned with being heard and being right than being reasonable.   I honestly gave up the hope of hearing or witnessing a rational debate until a friend of mine shared his frustrations with me this morning.  I feel honored and privileged he shared his wise thoughts with me – because his words freed me.  He was able to verbalize what I could only feel for so long. 

“Claiming victory over a debate is wrong on so many levels.  There are no winners or losers.  It’s an exchange of ideas.  That’s the bottom line.” ~ Sergeant T. Emilio Solano “If we’re going to outrage about something, it should never be one-sided.  We should focus on the act and the bottom line, not the reasons.  Murder is murder.  If a black guy shoots a white guy or vice versa, it should not matter to the level of outrage.  It’s a man killing a man.”

I couldn’t agree more. I honestly feel that when we focus on the race of the victim or perpetrator that is the moment we dismiss the humanity and all rationalization.  Responses from that moment forward become not about the crime/act, but about the skin.

Sergeant Solano continues, “Why are we so infatuated with the reasons?  Does it really matter?  A crime was committed.  Harm was done.  Does it matter who or why?  Reason should only matter on self-defense cases.  That’s it.  A community of poor uneducated people (the majority are) should not care if a white cop shoots a black dude.  Do we revolt when a black man shoots a white man in a trailer park?  I’m tired when any minority cries out about how bad they have it, or how underprivileged they are.  If you want to succeed - go to school and make a better life for yourself.”

Again, I couldn’t agree more.  My friend is a great example.  He is man of mixed races, born in the Dominican Republic and not of privilege, yet has worked hard to make something of himself.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, and takes pride in all he sets himself to do – working with excellent ethics for nearly 15 years in the Army. He's been in combat, is a leader, a teacher, a role model, and my admiration and respect for him is intangible. The way his subordinates respect him is not something given or granted, but earned.   It’s also something very lacking in pop culture today. 

I made the response to him, “We live in a PC world where everyone is a victim.  You’re of a different mindset.  You see individuality and personal responsibility, and that, my friend, puts you into another minority.”

He responded, “In nature, victims get eaten.  In humanity, those who want to play the victim and not strive to change should be purged. We don’t need their sorryness (I know… it’s not a real word) around the rest of us who strive every day.  Nobody really cares if you’ve been oppressed, enslaved, or abused.  Grow up, become stronger, educate yourself, and work hard.  We all have the same opportunities.  Nobody cares about your sorrows.” 

If we all look into our own closets, we ALL have been victimized in some way.  We have ALL felt and experienced some form of oppression, enslavement, or abuse.  EVERY ONE of us (black, white, rich, poor and every box we’ve created between).  These experiences all lend to reasons for how we react, but they’re not excuses.  There are really no excuses for repaying one bad deed with another.  Our response is truly what separates victims from survivors - from those who fail and those who overcome.

Let’s be human beings, love one another as humans, and care for one another as humans.  Let us examine all things with rational debate – remove the race, the hate, the prejudice, the boxes, and the victimization.  Let’s talk to each other, not at each other. 

I love and admire my friend very much.  He’s not bad to look at either, but it’s his mind for rational debate that makes him truly beautiful.

Till next time
~T.L. Gray

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