How much of life have you taken for granted so far? I know I had up until I was 62. I was very healthy, active, building stuff, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, I loved life and appreciated what I had. Yet, at the same time, I was taking it for granted. Proof positive was the planning I was engaged in for my retirement years. I had quite the list: leisure time with Mary Ann at home, visiting with the kids, more time on my bike, playing in multiple bands, building instruments and, of course, traveling. And then, an act of God, Mother Nature, and the energy of the universe decided to change all that. Of course, I wondered who made the call to bring me to my new prison and incarcerated my soul into a non-functional body. It happened quickly and with determination. With this, I am now gasping for breath, which is common place for me these days. Yet, I’m not the only one who was struck down by natural causes. I grieve for all the others who suffer from Mother Nature’s intervention in our lives, especially those younger than me whose times on Earth has been prematurely cut short. Those deaths are caused by either the Divine intervention or caught in the vortex of the energies of the universe. We call them natural deaths.
Then there are man-made deaths, ones that are preventable. Too many have had their lives cut off because of man-made concepts such as hate, fear, xenophobia and racism. I now grieve the man-made deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. When George Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe”, I got it. I myself know what it’s like not to be able to breathe so watching the video of George Floyd losing his life with a man pressing his knee into his throat was so painful for me. It would take me being off of my respirator less than ten minutes for me “to walk across the line” and die a natural death. In the case of George Floyd, it took 8 minutes and 46 seconds of oxygen deprivation that took his life, clearly not a natural death. It was man-made and could have been prevented. It was a policeman who took his life, a man who had a sense of white privilege and brotherhood protection which provided a sense of security in taking the life of a black man.
And Ahmaud? He was jogging, unarmed, following a dream. The two white men who stopped him used a citizen’s arrest and open carry laws to justify killing him because they had man-made rules that gave them the confidence of privilege to do just that. This was not the work of Mother Nature, but of man.
And Breonna? She was home, feeling as safe as an African American man or woman can these days, being with family. Her boyfriend possessed a firearm and was only going to use it to defend his home, who most pro-gun advocates argue is the reason why anyone should own a gun Without a warrant, and bad directions, the Louisville police rammed the door, and rushed in, weapons drawn. It took seconds for Breonna’s boyfriend to react and readied himself to protect his girlfriend, and the police shot Breonna. She was a medical technician helping with the pandemic. Another man-made tragedy that could have been avoided.
So what do we do now? For too long, we’ve seemed to have become numb to these man-made tragedies. That’s why I support the peaceful demonstrations going on. Unfortunately there are opportunists who use the cover of large assemblies to loot, but that seems to be the case every time there are large demonstrations. We need to keep our eyes on the prize. I believe it is our obligation to let our government know that we know what is going wrong, and it’s time we tell them enough is enough in terms of their inaction. For too long, officers like Chauvan, with 17 complaints, 4 shootings, one fatal, are allowed to continue working, emboldened by the notion that they will be protected, no matter what. I believe we should make policing a white collar job, appealing to professionals who have a range of skills including negotiation, problem solving, and a sense of inclusion.
Please forgive my rant. You all know by now my Judeo values of repairing the world and when we do harm to one, we do harm to all. Another Jewish credo is when you don’t speak up when you see wrong, you are complicit. We need to grieve and then move to action. When there are man-made tragedies, it diverts our attention from Mother Nature’s challenges. We need to show compassion to the victims of all tragedies and keep our eyes on solving both. The man-made ones we can take care of by writing or calling our government representatives and using the ballot box. Trump is a good example of a man-made challenge that can be fixed by voting him out. The idea here is that however you choose to take action, please do something peacefully, respectfully, and for the cause of our common good. Let’s take care of our man-made challenges so we can focus on Mother Nature again.
More to come…