We’re at an interesting point of our country’s history. It is either the awakening of a new American golden age or a horrifying return to historical violence.
The many nations of our country are looking at the same objective truth and seeing very different pictures. These pictures are tinted by the lenses of their own personal experiences, personal opinions, and core belief differences that we would never even think to question.
I recently discovered that “nation” didn’t quite mean what I thought it meant. A country may also be a nation, but a country is only one example of a nation.
In many ways, you can consider a liberal or a conservative to be a nation or a tribe. They have a shared experience. Shared knowledge. A shared history, even if it’s passed on by a chosen set of compatriots rather than one you were born into it.
You could consider white people to be a tribe as well. We share the experience of living in America while white. Similarly, black people have the shared experience of living in America while black. Either side will see glimpses of the others through second-hand experiences, but those experiences while always be filtered through our own pre-conceived notions of how the world works.
Recently a police officer shot at a black man for running during a traffic stop. This is an illegal action by a police officer, as decided by TENNESSEE v. GARNER, (1985).
Some white people defend the cop’s actions because we cannot allow criminals to escape. There’s an implicit assumption here that the man is a criminal.
It was due to his race, but less directly than some would assume. Certainly, some people are just more likely to think black people are criminals. Some I have spoken to are instead basing it on the fact that he ran. They said that innocent people don’t run, and they honestly believed that.
But they have never lived life as a black person. Hearing the news of other black people getting shot for no reason, they have a good reason to be concerned. Everyone is different in how they handle acute stress response, but there’s a good reason why it’s known as the “Fight or Flight Response”.
They correctly point out that if they hadn’t run, they wouldn’t have been shot at. While true, that ignores the physiological impact of that reaction. Fighting or fleeing in that situation is as human as you can get.
I understand this intellectually, but I have never experienced it when dealing with police officers.
Neither will the black person understand the experience of a white person who gets called racist by black people who are trying to defend someone for disobeying an officer of the law. Those people who put their lives on the lines to help others. I’ve felt the wrath of white and black liberals a few times myself as I’ve expressed views that they misunderstand or cannot accept.
Their experience living as a white person has not prepared them for the trying to understand the life experiences of someone whose life has been so different than their own.
For the last few decades we’ve been getting more and more comfortable with pushing agendas through the use of legal and political trickery rather than through open and honest debate.
Each time we do this, we miss our own opportunity to discover what we ourselves have been missing. To show what our own collection of nations has illuminated, and learn what was left dark.
Instead we force what we think is right, and hit the brick walls of those we have failed to take into account.
The large set of Republicans who were actively hurt by the ACA, through our actions and those of their representatives. On average the legislation was a tremendous success, but the hurt individuals are still hurt.
The Latino Americans regularly caught up in anti-immigration sentiment. Sheriff Joe Arpaio was pardoned after being held in contempt of court for refusing to stop racial profiling Latinos. The court case was brought by US citizens pushing back against violations of their rights by overzealous government.
The Black Americans 4x more likely to be arrested for the same minor infractions as White Americans or to die innocent due to their own fear and the fear of the officer on hand.
You can change legislation by trickery or force, but you cannot demonstrate that your change is necessary and right without honest and open debate. If you do not change their hearts and minds, then you are merely escalating an already vicious battle.
I could see a few paths forward, and I think we should take different ones for different situations. A lot of debate is needed to gain more of a shared understanding. In some cases we should instead understand that there are problems that *must* be solved at the local level due to the different experiences of different sets of people.