This week I was afraid of…
The evilness of humanity and the fact that we are all capable of evil.
I’d been trying to avoid any articles or video footage of the Walter Scott shooting, the shooting of an African American man in South Carolina by a Caucasian police officer last weekend, but it became unavoidable when my husband brought up the incident and I couldn’t allow myself to run away from it any longer.
I first saw the news coverage of the shooting on a mute TV screen in the gym. I read the captions, but didn’t dare listen to the commentary. I didn’t want to feel anger, disappointment, and fear yet again because another unarmed person of color is dead at the hands of law enforcement. As the public and family of Walter Scott seek justice for what seems to be a senseless murder, the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been a hot topic in the news as well. Dzhokhar, the younger brother of the duo that committed horrible acts of terror by setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, has been found guilty of 30 charges and awaits sentencing of either life in prison or the death penalty.
When I think about the evil in the hearts of the men that carried out these crimes, my insides fill up with fear. I fear for the world that my daughter has to grow up in–a world where her life is of lesser value because of the color of her skin and where people use religion to terrorize others.
Today I remember…
There is no avoiding the evil that is present within each of us. In fact, we can look at Officer Michael Slager, the officer who has been charged with murdering Walter Scott, or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and think that we are somehow better. We are not better. None of us are without fault.
Just yesterday, I felt a moment of fleeting hatred for another driver that cut me off on my way home from the gym. I wanted do every horrible thing imaginable to them for doing something that I felt jeopardized my life, but most importantly, the life of my 1-year-old daughter in the backseat. In my mind, harming that driver (or worse) would be justified for something as trivial as not allowing me to merge into a lane.
Imagine if my life circumstances were different. If I’d grown up believing that other people were beneath me. If I was sheltered from the realities of racism, classism, and sexism. If I was taught to believe that one race really is superior to all others. Imagine if I felt outraged that my people were unjustly persecuted by America. Imagine if I felt like I was at my lowest point and had nothing to lose. What would I do? (Not to say that I know the motivations of Officer Michael Slager or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and definitely not to justify their actions in ANY way. Just trying to see things differently here.)
I must remember that change starts with myself. There are no excuses for the injustices of Walter Scott’s murder or the Boston marathon bombings that altered the lives of hundreds of people. However, one of the things I can do is to not allow hatred to fester in my heart for any reason. I can try to become the change I wish to see. It’s not the complete solution for a better world for my daughter, but it’s a small start. By truly believing and acting like all lives are valuable in my everyday life, I can conquer fear by at the very least not being part of the problem. It’s just one step of many to fight injustice, but it’s something.
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