Everyone is jockeying for the moral high ground after the Ferguson verdict. Social media is a shit-show of everyone pointing fingers at each other. I won’t even go into all the judge/juries that have appointed them selves verdict makers on Brown/Wilson’s implied guilt.
I feel like I have a unique perspective on the subject.1 There is my work side that deals with law-enforcement issues every day of my career. I can see valid points from the officer’s story. There were several things Brown could have done to avoid the confrontation. Then there is my gay side that grew up at the hands of very rough and not so friendly police on more than one occasion. I can see valid points from Brown’s family. The police could have handled the situation better and not necessarily let it escalate out of control.
The reality is neither side is blameless. No one has the moral high ground here. And no one should walk away feeling like they lost/won. We all lost. People often can’t resolve the cognitive dissonance created by the ambiguity of fault or blame. And because of this, we can’t admit that neither side is blameless. Brown refused to comply, Wilson overreacted.2
No matter who’s side you are on it still means nothing unless we act. If we truly want to fix these problems, we must move beyond the never-ending and condescending tantrums via social media. And while petitions and marches in the streets are excellent displays of solidarity, they are not enough. These things depend on someone else to fix our problems.
We as a citizenry must be involved. We cannot abandon, thru indifference, our oversight of those we place in power and be surprised when it suddenly becomes corrupt. Civic duty is not just serving jury duty or voting, begrudgingly. It is our guaranteed right thru the freedoms granted us. But we must exercise those rights. It should not be something we only do when it is convenient. It should be a part of our daily lives.3 If more of us get involved, we won’t need to constantly focus on blame. We’ll be in forums to constantly give oversight, feedback, and accountability to both sides.
Basically, I’m saying be involved or shut up and accept your servitude. It is that simple. Like any living thing, democracy must be fed or it dies from neglect. Go to your local police community meetings. If they aren’t offered, rally your neighbors and friends and demand they have them. Go to your governing body’s public meetings. Call, write, and/or email your local and state leaders. And don’t do it once and call it good. Involvement is ongoing. Embrace your civic duties. Then and only then can we see real change.