On Baltimore:

Distress, Distractions and Discipline

For quite some time, I’ve kept my thoughts on the issues affecting minority communities around the country to myself.

Occasionally, I’ll share my thoughts with my wife or a close friend.

But mostly I’ve spent my time listening to understand and not to reply; to conversations on blogs, in the news media, on Facebook, etc.

I think I finally have a little better understanding of the various perspectives weighing in on the issues of which there are many.

Since writing is thinking on paper, I wanted to try to organize my thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Here’s what I’ve got:

The Levees are Breaking

We have a serious crisis that has reached a breaking point. Inequality will no longer be tolerated.

I see red flags when there are people destroying their own communities in response to frustration with systemic injustice.

For one, the ability to pause, reflect and then react to emotional distress is learned, not instinctual. Those without proper education aren’t often afforded that luxury.

Yesterday on CNN, Community Activist DeRay McKesson was asked if there was an excuse for the violence, stealing and arson happening in Baltimore.

He elegantly replied that “pain manifest itself in different ways” …
I don’t have to condone it to understand it”, he said.

With that in mind, we shouldn’t pay as much attention to the symptoms of the problem. Rather, we should look to address the root causes of the issues.

There is a more serious problem flooding our communities and our country.

Let’s focus on the solutions to address them.

Distractions Don’t Contribute to the Cause

I also agree with the many people who are empathetic to citizens of Baltimore. The way communities react to these situations is a biological response to stress. I understand that.

However, we know that there are thousands of people peacefully demonstrating as intended. Civil disobedience is as literal as it sounds. Civil.

It’s understood that there were a significantly smaller amount of people that began the destruction of property coupled with violence.

But the minority of people that demonstrated their “support” by vandalizing their own community should have a look in the mirror.

Nevertheless, I’m mostly concerned that there isn’t enough community leadership to help articulate to them that their behavior is distracting from the cause.

But there are leaders among us. Like this man in the photo below.

Bravely standing in front of officers proclaiming, “don’t give them a reason” to a group of frustrated young men.

Don’t give them a reason could otherwise be translated to, “don’t give people something else to focus on”.

Because we know that’s what will happen if we take the bait.

The Long Road Ahead

This is not easy. I don’t dare claim that it is.

But when all the odds are stacked against you, you must play a perfect game to outlast or outsmart your opponent. And it’s sad that opponents is how the powers that be could be described.

To use a sports analogy, you must grab every loose ball. You must make every free throw. You must NOT turn the ball over to the other team. You must NOT get any technical fouls and forfeit free points to the opposing team.

Otherwise, you lose.

Is that fair?

Of course it isn’t.

A perfect game in the war on inequality and systemic injustice requires organization, patience, valor, eloquence and most of all discipline.

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” — Augusta F. Kantra

Anything that does not contribute to the end goal is merely a distraction.

I hope that we can keep our eyes on the goal.

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