I hope you will indulge me in a small prologue.
I recently posted this article to my personal website and socials and it had such an active mix of responses that I thought I would share it here for engagement with the wider community.
Now, before you embark on what I hope becomes a hot topic of conversation or at the very least becomes an ember towards the spark of real change, I would like to point out that I am looking at this issue from an alternative perspective. There has already been a lot of light shone on the issue of excessive use of force by police and deaths in custody, but I feel that is only covering half of the issue. When I see a problem, I like to pull it apart into all its pieces to see what wear and tear there is, what caused it and why.
Now, do not get me wrong, I am not pro-racism, or “casually racist” as one of my (white male) commenters labelled me after I posted this to my socials (also, when did we start giving trendy labels to things like this? Is there such a thing as “friendly murder” or “informal littering?”). I am about as far from racist as you can possibly get. I just do not see colour. Now, tall people and carny folk… watch out for those guys!! I am most definitely sick of people giving racism power. Even Morgan Freeman recently stated that he just wanted people to stop talking about it, to stop feeding it, Morgan does not see colour either, just people.
So please, in the spirit of alternative thinking and problem solving, leave all coloured lenses on the night stand when you read this article. Let us all try to understand one another. See if there are other issues at play and how can you make a difference in someone’s life.
Enjoy (or hate. Either way talk to someone about it – that is how all great movements start).
The United States of America (USA) gets a lot of criticism for just about everything it does and to be fair, a lot of it is well deserved. There are near third world medical conditions for over 27 million national residents. That is three million more than Australia’s total population! However, to be fair and avoid contributing towards sensationalist media, that figure represents only 8.5% of the American population. Still, it could be rectified by retiring half of the country’s political departments with a good overhaul and amalgamation… but this is meant to be an article of heart, not more persecution.
I want to talk about the happy side of USA. All we see are mass shootings in schools, riots in the streets and tensions between law keepers and the public. Now, I am not defending use of excessive force in any capacity, but a balance needs to be found. I can only imagine the constant lizard-brain stress law keepers in America must feel. This is a country where you can buy guns over the counter in the same place you buy milk… How much stress must these men and women constantly be under to be dealing with people who could potentially shoot them? It must reflect in their dealings with everyone, people who have a gun in a situation and people who don’t. You could not possibly hold a job like that without a constant ball of tension and aggression, and how does this affect their family life? If my partner was a law keeper, I do not know if I could handle the pressure of not knowing if today would be the day I received a call to let me know that something had happened to them. How would that affect the family life? Both parties carry their own bottled up emotions… brrrr … makes me shiver. The strength that all of those people must have is amazing, and all for a mere wage. In my opinion, these people are under the same kind of stress as people posted to a war zone. Or the Romans of old going off to war for years at a time, not always in combat but always on the front line. At least those men were given a plot of land at the end of their service.
Again, I am not justifying the excessive use of force. What I would like to see is treatment of the issue. What support are these law keepers given? Has this back-of-the-mind mounting stress been taken into account? Is it recognised and validated? Imagine if these people were given three paid straight months off a year to lie by the beach, tend a garden or just spend quality time with their loved ones. This would give them time to heal in their hearts and bring compassion back to the job, it would give their families time to heal and bolster their support.
I grew up in some tough areas and there was a sentiment towards the police as an “us” versus “them” approach. I never understood this; I always saw uniformed police officers as the people who kept my family safe while they slept. They are the people who everyone, crims and law-abiding folk alike, tells their young children to find if they are lost in the street.
Here in Australia, we recently had rallies in support of our own black lives matter campaign: to prevent deaths in custody. Our prime minister is rolling out new plans to reduce the amount of indigenous Australians in custody. I am currently working with groups of indigenous Australians on some entrepreneurial programmes. I grew up in areas where I socialised with indigenous children and I am of an age where I find it odd that there is still division between the races. In my opinion, if you want something go get it. If someone tells you that you can’t, you just find the work around. But I am from the city. I had no real exposure to the areas of the country where there are real issues, and a lot of that is the cultural divide. There is so much tension between the blue and the black man that it has become a bridge too far for so long that is seems like everyone on both sides have given up and fallen back to their respective trenches.
It seems that every year there are 50 new programmes to help these communities assimilate, connect and express. It is great that there is genuine care on both sides, but I do not think this should be confused and put into the muddy waters of blue vs black in our regional communities. Now this is just one man’s opinion, but I think the solution is to increase the numbers of indigenous folks in uniform – people from these communities helping to keep the peace and uphold laws for the very people that the law enforcers are there to help. They are not there to “heard” or put anyone into their place, they are there to help settle disputes and to keep people safe while they sleep. I think there should be a programme to bring a significant number of local indigenous Australians into the police force for those areas.
And now for the kudos I wanted to throw to the USA. There are many amazing things that these guys throw into the world: democracy for a big one, corn dogs for a delicious two, but the most relevant one right now is national BFF day on June 8th every year. Now, Australia is not shy of public holidays, we have them for football grand finals and we seem to be very confused about the queen’s actual birthday, for which we have multiple days off throughout the year. But how good is the USA for a BFF day? It is brilliant. Studies have shown friends are good for your health. Strong social support can help reduce your risk for depression and high blood pressure. They have a grab your buddy and give them a hug day!!
You all know me, I like to treat the issue and not the symptoms. I know I sound like a hippy, but can’t we just all get along? ?
If you have some pull and you are reading this then make the suggestion where you can to start a committee or a programme. If you do not have political clout then help out someone you know who might be living under a haze of emotion and stress. Sometimes just acknowledging it can make all the difference in the world.
And if you are someone who feels like it is all too much, or you know you have become angry in life and you do not know how you got there… then here is a link to some really cute puppies. No one can look at cute puppies and not feel their heart melt ?
I love you all. Look after yourself and, if you can look, after someone else too.
Happy belated BFF day!