Revolution?

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

Lyrics by John Lennon

How apropos since it is nearly Independence Day, since we are celebrating our own version of revolution.

America is such a divided country.  People have been saying that for a long time. To me, it seems more evident today, than ever in my history.   I will say one thing, people are not afraid to say what is in their hearts, from loving sentiments to dark and hateful.

The Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, who recently issued an order to wear masks in public, shared a text message he received that suggested he should swing from a tree, and some other, vile comments including one using the n word.

I see a variety of things posted, some from people hiding anonymously, while others are proudly sharing their ignorance in pictures and videos.  I’ve had my own run-ins with “friends” who model less than tolerant behavior.  The term “freedom and liberty” is frequently twisted and misused, to put your rights over someone else.

I believe that America is poised for major change.  Actually, it is already happening.  We may be divided, but there are enough people wanting change to begin moving the needle.

People who say All Lives Matter, are technically correct. All lives deserve respect and should all be afforded justice and not be treated with prejudice. Unfortunately, four hundred years of racism has tipped the scales. While every life is important, people of color have to more to fear, less opportunity and a system that still pushes them back, instead of equality at the starting line.  I am not afraid to walk in my almost entire white neighborhood, a person of color likely is.

It’s funny, and sad, that if you participate in a protest, you are deemed by many as unpatriotic, a Marxist and Communist, and deserving of being pepper-sprayed and arrested – for standing on a public sidewalk and exercising your First Amendment rights. Not everyone at a protest is violent or disrespectful to police, ignores orders, loots or burns police cars. Many want to show support and be heard. Then go home.

People like drawing lines, it makes life simpler.  If only life was simple; it is not.

Unfortunately, it seems to come down to this: The line is drawn that you either support the police or you do not. That you are either a patriotic American or a bomb-throwing anarchist. You are against kneeling or you hate the flag and American soldiers.  Either or, and nothing in between.  That is how the dividing line is drawn.  And that is the problem.

Let’s get the police issue out of the way, it seems to be the more inflammatory of the many divisive issues.  Yes, kneeling is divisive, but recently, the most divisive issue seems to be the police. This blog is not about bashing the police; but the police and what they represent has been a longstanding issue, but most recently since Ferguson, Missouri.

Across the country, you are hearing pleas to reduce or completely de-fund the police.  Other pleas are to shift some resources from policing to social services.  Legislative bodies control funding, it is a primary policy function of elected officials.  Can we actually reduce police services to communities? That’s questionable. What is more likely is the enhancement of mental health and social service resources to solve issues not currently handled well by police. Even many police would agree, that other resources and services are needed. Jails are not mental hospitals and police officers are not social workers.  A large number of calls for service are not for armed response or making arrests.  Look at any law enforcement call log, it is settle complaints, make reports or refer to other services.

Let me be clear. I am not in favor of de-funding the police. I have worked in local government for over 30 years, I understand the policing function.  What I am against is the militarization of police, and I believe that most law enforcement agencies need more transparency.

I read comments by many, who believe the police are under attack, and pushback against any public criticism. Police departments are not going to be de-funded. There may be some tough encounters between policymakers and police representatives over some difficult issues, but that is how government works.  The fraternal order of police in many jurisdictions are perfectly capable of representing officer interests.  We should welcome discussion about review boards and committees to address racial profiling and other issues. Good police officers do not like bad cops, and the actions of a few, taint everyone wearing a badge and upholding the honor of the profession.  Law enforcement is an honorable profession.

Back to the issue of protest. I have written about the origin of our country and our struggle to break away from England. Protest is in our blood, and unfortunately, blood is spilled protesting unfair labor and working conditions, equal rights, civil rights, housing, and even former soldiers fighting for their benefits. Protest is not owned by any particular group, religion, economic class, race, gender or age.

Protest, or rebelling, is not the same as lawlessness or anarchy. There are those who cross the line to violence or property destruction. The First Amendment does not cover that, any more than a police officer beating a protester simply because they are holding a sign.  We are all accountable for our actions.  Rioting is not okay.  Brutality is not okay.  Okay?

In America, politicians and those with an ax to grind, love for issues to be reduced to a sound bite, bumper sticker or a hat. Problems are not solved with a slogan, it takes dialogue and patience.  Many of us believe the issues dividing us are complex, but solvable.  The tenor you hear from many groups, the cry for revolutionary changes, reflect how fed-up and angry they feel.  The cries for major change is not just coming from “radicals” it is also coming from middle class white people, key stakeholders in communities, voters and people with resources to back organizations with a voice.

Change is coming. The social tectonic plates have moved, but change does not have to be a revolution.  A revolution does not need to be conducted with guns or violence, it can be tsunami of ideas, of timely purpose and commitment.  It can simply be needed evolution, and take the form of peaceful change.

I may not win many friends with my views.  That’s okay, I still approved this message.


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