Growing up, I was always told I would be a preacher or politician. I am a gay Agnostic, so that pretty much eliminates both of those possibilities. But I have realized that I do have my little blog here to preach MY message. Few read, but I can feel I am trying to be a part of the civil discourse. Now, The Black Eyed Peas have a position of influence… and they are using that by releasing an updated 2016 version of their 2003 hit “Where’s the Love?” Celebrities appearances mixed with heart wrenching images makes me ask where is empathy, sympathy, and concern for others and our society. In 2003, I am ashamed to admit I remember more dancing to the song than listening to it.
Part of being Agnostic for me is I am ok with saying I don’t know. People confuse being Agnostic with being Atheist, but I feel Atheist have the same certainty there is NO God as Religious people do that there IS a God. Being Agnostic, I can say not only I don’t know, I can say – I don’t care. I don’t have to BE right… even though I do think I am right! (lol) Why do we have to have an absolute RIGHT side of EVERY issue? Living in the middle I get FRUSTRATED when Christians try to legislate how I as a gay man can live, and justify their “right” to not make gay wedding cakes because of THEIR beliefs. I am ANGERED by Islamic extremist that use terror as a means to associate that message with ALL Muslims to attempt to control lives of others. I am AGGRAVATED that we as a society look at issues only from our point of view and how it impacts us.
The photo of 5 year-old Omran Daqneesh sitting in the back of an ambulance in shock, wounded by a bomb that struck the building where his family lived is HAUNTING! I actually heard someone on tv say why had his family not fled, why did they stay in a war torn town. If I had been able to talk through the tv, I would have suggested the father may have seen the 2015 image of the lifeless toddler Aylan Kurdi on the beach of the Turkish resort of Bodrum, whose family had attempted to flee the Syrian war.
These images are events that happened about a year apart and in that year, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump was ranting about the threat of accepting Syrian refugees (and I like to remind people that this is also an asshole that feels it is acceptable to mock disabled people). He worries about the possibility of “terrorist” being able to use this as a way into the United States. I say the terrorists are here… they are the people cheering Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Britain is so frightened that they voted to leave the European Union based MOSTLY on fear of immigrants. How can ANY American look and these images and not be more terrified of the idea of doing NOTHING, not HELPING? When our society has become so cold, callused, and afraid of doing what is right, what is the danger of a Trump Presidency? We are accepting our fates to be isolationist that care ONLY about ourselves! I will FIGHT for what’s right and that, for me, means fighting Donald Trump’s candidacy. Even as much as I may not like Hillary Clinton… she does understand the basics of what’s right.
It’s not even like we have to look internationally to see issues that are no brainer issues that have become divisive. Why are so many white people so offended by the “Black Lives Matter” movement? It is as if they are so afraid of black people that they have to embolden the idea that there are NO bad cops and that “Black Lives Matter” hates cops. When the African-American population is disproportionately impacted by violence, poverty and incarceration, it is a sad refection on all people to act as if that issue does not exist. Americans HAVE such a need to react to “Black Lives Matter” with “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” because it is easier to be divisive and not listen, ignore or even blame the messenger. Or are they so color blinded that they think the idea of “BLACK Lives Matter” is to the exclusion of other races? Why are we as a society so afraid to agree that “Black Lives Matter” without having to dilute the message before listening or attempting to look or work on the issue?
I am a white guy and what makes me a little different is that I can acknowledge I have benefits because of white privilege. I know when I am pulled over by a cop, I am uncomfortable, but not afraid. I KNOW there are great cops! But that does not blind me to the evidence that there are some BAD cops and that some of those “bad cops” have gotten away with murder or at least manslaughter. A crooked justice system that gives bad cops a pass only endangers the good, honorable, and admirable cops. I wonder if Americans were to answer honestly if they would admit that cops over use their authority to a point of intimidation? Innocent black men have died just in the process of being arrested for minor violations. But a lot of white America cannot even acknowledge this injustice or acts as if it doesn’t exist.
Two BIG white boy cases that OFFEND me to my core are Ethan Couch and Brock Turner. Ethan Couch killed 4 people driving drunk. He was drinking under age, had stolen the beer from WalMart, his blood alcohol was over 3 times the legal limit for adult drivers, speeding with 7 passengers in his father’s pickup (one of the passengers was paralyzed in the accident also), and tested positive for marijuana and Valium. Ethan’s lawyer argued that poor Ethan suffered from “Affluenza”. Affluenza has nothing to do with the flu… but basically is a condition brought on by
too much affluence, he grew up rich and did not understand his actions had consequences. He ended up sentenced to probation and therapy. Look Ethan Couch up on Wikipedia for even more details of his white privilege granted via the US justice system. While the 2nd guy Brock Turner needs less discussion, he was convicted of raping an unconscious girl and was only sentenced to 6 months in jail and only had to serve 3 of those months.
These 2 assholes were convicted and paid no real penalty. In 2015 alone, over 100 unarmed African-Americans were killed by cops… key word “UNARMED”. Only 10 of these incidents resulted in charges and only 2 led to convictions.* In the same year (2015) there were 36 non-accidental firearm fatalities for US law enforcement.** We all know ALL lives matter, but we should see that this issue unjustifiably impacts one community more than the other! But for some reason, people do not listen and find ways to justify status quo.
Status quo is not acceptable anymore! We have to find the love! I wanted a Hollywood ending for this post… I tried. I searched for more recent photos of Omran. I wanted to see a photo of him well, happy, running and playing. But there is no “updated” happy ending for these issues I am struggling to understand. But to keep me motivated to find the love… I need the haunting image of Omran. At times, that photo comes to mind and I think… Omran is someone’s child, brother, nephew, cousin, buddy… he is more than that photo. I keep thinking of that photo and as I play with my blonde-haired, blue eyed, great-nephews that also have Arab last names. I have to do something so that their world is better! I hope to influence them with good, principled ideas, and there are NO more cases of “Affluenza” (or asshole lawyers that even consider ignorance a defense)! I hope that they will know a better, welcoming, loving America and be a part of a society that WANTS to help and protect ALL lives – especially the ones that don’t have the same privileges as others regardless of color, nationality or socioeconomic status. I hope they will not understand why TWICE The Black Eyed Peas felt the need to sing, “Where’s the Love?”
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