This has quite possibly been the most difficult two weeks that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. The decisions by the grand jury in Missouri and New York have shaken my faith in the way justice is done in this country. Perhaps these types of decisions have always been around, and I just wasn’t aware of them. But what happened–or more precisely, what was done to–Eric Garner and Michael Brown has me fully aware of how badly broken the legal system is.
I recently found a quote from Robert Kennedy, who delivered the news of Dr. King’s assassination to a group of African Americans in Indianapolis. He quoted from the poet Aeschylus in order to make sense of what was going on. I, too, would like to quote from the words of somebody who came before me, but I’d like to quote Kennedy himself. His words were:
“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
Love, wisdom, compassion, and justice; not division, hatred, violence, or lawlessness. That sounds like a recipe for a better country to me. The looting that took place in Ferguson hasn’t happened, that I’ve seen, in the wake of the Eric Garner decision. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t angry, but it does mean that violence is not the answer. The answer isn’t putting cameras on police officers, either, for we’ve seen what little good that does.
The answer, in these times of great despair, is feeling and acting better toward the people who share this nation with us. It’s like Kennedy said: Division is bad, and compassion is good. Without this, we’re headed in a direction that will mean terrible things for everyone.