It wasn’t easy to explain all the ways one could exacerbate a bad situation, but some lessons had to be learned from that master teacher, Experience. Would that all children could learn such lessons when they’re young so that when they grow up, they wouldn’t go around making their own — and even others’ — bad situations worse!
Fast forward to the present day, and we can say that many people apparently did not learn those lessons. Monday, April 27, 2015 shows that to sadly be very true.
Some of us (children or adults, neighbors or onlookers) wonder what in the world people are thinking when they set out to protest a bad situation (that so obviously needs to be addressed) by acting in a manner that not only takes attention away from the core issue, but creates a whole new scenario of violence, rioting, looting, hurtful and thoughtless acts that not only make a bad situation much worse, but cause untold loss and damage to their very own city or neighborhood, causing pain and suffering and injury to many. What if someone dies as a result of that thoughtless and violent behavior? How would that death be any less important than the death of Freddie Gray?
How should people respond to that? How do you imagine they would feel?
This is how wars start. You hurt me or one of mine, and I must of course hurt you and maybe even two of yours. Then you must retaliate for that with all you’ve got, causing me to call in the troops to overthrow your attack, and round and round we go.
If it is true that outsiders are actually notified during such times to take advantage of the situation so they can loot the stores that are in the middle of the fracas, one can only imagine how little the “informers” and the “invaders” care about the reason for the riot, their neighborhood, their city, their neighbors, the fact that many are now jobless because their stores have been looted and burned, and even themselves. They do not care about justice; they do not care about police reform; they don’t even care about any dreams Martin Luther King Jr. shared up to the day he was killed. What they care about is stuff. Strike while it’s hot; since somebody is bound to steal all that stuff that is so unprotected and so available just for the taking, it might as well be them.
Since I am not there in that particular neighborhood in Baltimore, and have no direct contact with anyone there, I am getting my news from TV like most others. And it’s pretty much the same thing we’ve seen before: a tragic event that didn’t have to be; emotional outbursts of the citizens of the town; reactionary emotional protests on the day of the funeral to show how they feel about such unnecessary and ongoing police actions that almost always lead to unnecessary death; protests-turned-rioting by those who either turn into criminals on the spot by choosing to take advantage of the bad situation, or by outsiders, passing for locals, who have been informed that there’s an opportunity to come loot while the looting is good.
Any time a police action goes wrong, it’s a bad situation. It’s as bad as it can be when someone loses his life when it didn’t have to be that way. It wouldn’t seem “normal” if those who were there and saw what happened, or his family or friends, didn’t feel emotional about it. Even strangers and outsiders feel emotional about such a thing.
But that is exactly NOT the time and certainly NOT the frame of mind in which to take action.
When we lash out in anger from the seat of our emotions, we will always make a bad situation worse. Martin Luther King Jr. said “..rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat….” Did he die for nothing? Did he live and teach and preach for nothing? Apparently his words, his dreams, and his goals no longer resonate in the hearts of many of those young people in Baltimore today. Sadly, they didn’t resonate in the hearts of many of those in Ferguson either.
What will it take for whole neighborhoods of people to learn not to make a bad situation worse? Maybe whole neighborhoods really need training in how to handle such situations. Maybe cities need to offer courses — free — to both children and adults in how to handle their emotions when something tragic or horrible happens. Maybe the police should take the same courses, right along with the members of the community, allowing them to get to learn more about each other and prove to each other that they are not enemies.
We need to educate hate out of our lives. If we grow up with it, maybe handed down from parents or educators, and then have it fanned into flames by those we hang around who are just waiting for an occasion to lash out with that hate, we can possibly blame others — but not for long. When we look around us and see what hate does to our communities and our friends, and even to ourselves, we’ve got to at some point take responsibility for turning that hate into positive action that
will lead to what we want: justice and reform.
If all of us take action to turn useless and destructive hate into positive energy for change, it is possible that we’ll begin to see a big change for the better in all our communities. It may be slow, but it will be sure. Riots and violence erupt quickly based on uncontrolled emotion, fanning the flames for more of the same. Is that really what we want? Are those who are looking at their neighborhood there in Baltimore tonight happy with what they’ve done? What they see? Has it solved a single thing?
I believe we need to bring back teaching children that “old-fashioned” lesson when they’re very young, and keep at it till they get it. If today’s parents will do this, maybe future generations of children will not go around making their own, or any other, bad situation even worse.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.