I am of the opinion best summarized by G.K. Chesterton in his now famous words, “Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,”
I watched a couple live feeds from Ferguson last night following the announcement that Darren Wilson would not face trial for the shooting and killing of Michael Brown. When the smoke, pepper spray and tear gas started flying, I saw some of the first canisters hit the ground. It was hard to watch. I saw peaceful protestors holding up their hands I saw cursing angry protestors threatening violence to cops I saw people looting. I saw people throwing rocks at the police and the news reporters. I saw buildings and cars on fire. I saw Bassem Masri who was live streaming the event have his phone stolen.
I was afraid that the things I saw were going to be the things I would see.
In this all, I am trying to find myself in the face of the other. I understand being a peaceful protestor. I understand, though disagree with being a threatening protestor. I even understand being a cop, who despite having weapons, would be afraid in the face of large, potentially violent crowds – I would neither want to shoot, nor to be hurt or killed in the line of duty. I can see a little of myself in the face of “some of the other”, but not in all the other. I am not able to understand the looting, the burning, or the rock throwing. When the CNN reporter was hit in the head with a rock, I wondered, ‘What kind of coward would throw rocks at women reporting the news?’ That made me angry. It made me angry to read of the old man, who had his car stolen, with the oxygen tanks he uses to breath, and was run over by his own car in the process. (He is doing okay, apparently.) My disapproval of thuggery as a response to injustice makes itself evident in my previous post about Ferguson. I am angry after hearing of the body of a young black man found shot in his car this morning, and the car being burned.
Stepping back half a day, I wonder, Am I missing something in the grand narrative of our culture, if I can not identify with the looters, and the violent responses? For those who see the violent response with the eyes of understanding, you see something I do not. Perhaps, in this sense, if I am asked what is the nature of the problem, I with Chesterton have to reply, “I am. Yours Truly,”.
I am sure someone will try to enlighten me. I am sure it will be a futile attempt. In fact, I will probably ask you if you can find your own face in the face of Ferguson.
Instead, most of us will look on at the happenings in Ferguson over the last 100 plus days, and we will find ourselves enslaved by our passionate opinions, unable to see or say anything other than what we think about the problems in America, or what we think should have happened. That is the struggle we all have: we become objectified by these things and by the people we objectify, and we have become mere robots of the broken system enslaving us.