Our response points to our freedom.
The response we choose in every aspect of our lives shapes who we are and what our future will bring. It’s hard to realize, in the heat of a moment, how powerful that moment and our response can be. Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor pointed out:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our freedom.
A national response protests in the city streets.
This past Memorial Day, George Floyd died at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers after being restrained. Communities across the country have erupted in protest, wanting justice.
Raw anger erupted as flames consumed a Minneapolis police station and the whole world watched while tear gas was used, often ineffectively, to disperse crowds in attempt to restore order. The whole world also watched while rioters (not mere protestors) destroyed property.
Allison Pries reports for NJ Advance Media about the city riots, “These are all the cities where protests and riots have erupted over George Floyd’s death.” She says:
Fires raged, looters emptied stores and people were injured or killed across the country during another night of violent protests over the death of George Floyd allegedly at the hands of Minneapolis police.
She then lists the cities and describes the turnouts in each:
Atlanta, Bakersfield, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Minneapolis, New York City, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, and San Jose
Now we realize the list is incomplete. The riots press on as sides are taken and the listening, the deep listening, has stopped.
Some replace a calm response with violence.
But not all protests were violent. In fact, very small percentages of those protesting were – most were peaceful, even calling for calm. There is agitation from without the protesting groups that increases the violence and angst. It is an influence foreign to these cities, foreign to most people, foreign to the rightful call for justice for George Floyd. It’s an influence that stifles our ability to listen.
Nicholas Wu, reporting in USA Today noted that Attorney General William Barr said:
Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda. In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and … far left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics.
Radicalism, be it from the political left or right, is a response of choice. Fueled by and opportunity, such infiltration curves the message such that the focus of the moment gets lost. We lose sense of what causes what, where justice gets lost and why.
Atlanta’s Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, reminds us what it means to care, to listen, to be an effective protestor. She reminds of us what it means for a responsible response. She reminds us that we are better than this.
Racism leads to a fearful response.
There should be no needless and unjust death at the hands of those who are charged with our safety. Nor should there be violence on our streets perpetrated by a select few. Both are responses by choice.
This is not a new phenomenon. Alice George reported in the Smithsonian, in 2018, how, “The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened.” She reported:
President Lyndon Johnson had constituted the Kerner Commission to identify the genesis of the violent 1967 riots that killed 43 in Detroit and 26 in Newark, while causing fewer casualties in 23 other cities.
The Kerner Commission noted:
… white racism—not black anger—turned the key that unlocked urban American turmoil.
Speaking about Detroit, the Kerner Commission said:
… the city at this time was saturated with fear.
In 1967, Newsweek produced a special section on racial inequality. The cover image shown here, was described by William S. Pretzer, the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s senior curator:
The magazine’s graphically powerful cover depicts two raised African-American hands. One forms the fist of black power; the other has slightly curled fingers. Perhaps that hand is reaching for the American dream—or on its way to closing another fist. It was deliberately ambiguous,
Our response must be one of listening.
Whether our response is emotional or objective heavily depends on to whom and to what we listen. Our listening depends on whom and what we value and respect. The message should always be clear: Every human being matters. Every citizen matters. Every thought and emotional outcry matters. We must listen!
Equal Voice Voting (EVV) is wholly about allowing every voting voice be heard in our presidential elections. It matters. It matters because who we elect for the Oval Office sways the nation either by leadership or by abdication. With or without strength needed in a moment of crises, the choice of response matters.
In five months, we will cast our ballots for a president. It will be like raising our hands, raising our voices, raising our concerns about justice, liberty, and our individual pursuits of happiness. We will be making choices and our responses – all of them – must matter.
All of us must listen. All of us must vote! All of us must be heard.
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team