Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day in Baltimore

Baltimore is bringing up an issue that people throughout time have failed to address. I can confidently predict that we will choose to fail to address it again because it is too painful.  Even people who want to address it will fail, like the Apostle Peter.  Three times?  No, no...many times more than that.  Even Peter didn't get it until the rooster crowed.  

The issue at the heart of it all is how we choose to define "violence". 

When a CVS is set on fire, it is an act of vandalism.  It is clearly violence.  We draw a hard and fast "zero-tolerance" line.  You can't do that.  It is easy to define, nice neat and tidy.

When a law is passed that empowers one group at the expense of another, it is governance - the will of the people.  When it is followed by another law...and another one...and another one, it is policy.  Policy creeps into our awareness and becomes normative.  In reality, it is also violence, but it is legal violence.  You can do that.  Unlike setting something on fire, its not easy to define.  Its messy.

We are tuned to keep an eye out for the fires, but we are also tuned to ignore - or even incentivize - governance and law. We are, after all a "nation of laws", not a "nation of morals".  That is why I predict that we will choose yet again to fail to act on the awareness that both setting the fires and passing immoral laws are violence, but disproportionately addressed by society.  

Deriving benefit from immoral laws is the same as Peter failing to lay claim to the Jesus who loved him.  Slavery and apartheid were both perfectly legal, but they were never moral. That is what separates Sunday mornings from Monday mornings.

A system which distributes despair will always have Baltimores.

Happy May Day, again.

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