After the events of the past few weeks where armed police in riot gear used pepper spray, tear gas and batons to clear out unarmed protesters, I have been wanting to get on my soap box and rant away.
I almost wrote a curse filled, didactic epistle immediately after the incident at UC Davis. Regardless of your political leanings, your agreeing or disagreeing with the OWS protests, Spraying large amounts of bright red pepper spray in the faces of students sitting on the ground, arms linked, cannot be viewed as anything but barbaric and wrong. I am still angry, still want to pretend I don’t carry my own hypocrisy around and shout at the top of my lungs in raw emotion.
I guess getting older, being wrong over and over again has taught me at least this: Never argue or speak out of anger. You will nearly always end up regretting what you say, having to apologize or admit one or more errors in logic or fact.
I have been reflecting, thinking, stewing and pondering how best to approach this topic and I think I know what it is I want to say. Where has our compassion for each other gone? Did we ever have any to begin with? Are we only able to show concern for those we know? Those we love? Do they even get the benefit of our attempts at empathy (which is another topic for another day, empathy)?
I do not excuse myself from this. When the Tea Party were out, wandering the streets, waving signs and guns, I found it easy to dismiss them, their message as I did not agree with it. I admit to being frightened by their violent rhetoric (though that is all it was, I have yet to find incidents of actual violence), and their ease at which they would speak in anger and make reference to violent revolution. I found it very easy to mock them, make fun of their poorly spelled signs, the sexual innuendo regarding tea bagging. I let any understanding or compassion I had fly right out the window.
When I hear or read people say or write how these college kids, the people in Oakland, deserved what they got, I have to wonder, what have we become and more terrifying, where are we going?
I was not born in 1968 when, during the Democratic National Convention, when the police cleared Grant Park under the guise of protecting the leaders of the nation from assassination. But I had hoped we as a country were beyond this type of violence towards our own.
The current political climate of shifting spectrum, from left to right, then back is partially to blame. But I see this as a matter of perception. Nothing has really changed in the last 20 years. We elect a democrat and the republicans block everything, blame all the issues on failure of the left to act or see the world the way they see it, then the elections come and we shift. Now it is the Republicans who are invective, picking on the poor while catering to the rich. But this is all deception. These politicians have the same agenda, spend the same money from the same large corporations (who are now people, according to the Supreme Court), are part of the wealthy that have run this nation from the beginning. We fight among ourselves, blaming the government, blaming the corporations, forgetting they are one in the same. I am guilty of putting too much trust in government and I know plenty who trust capitalism too much.
Is this fixable? Perhaps. I wonder if it is a sense of compassion for our fellow humans that has been dulled to the point that what we as individuals believe and want is the only concern we allow. I am interested in what you think.
And sorry for the moments of preaching. In the end I am still me.