Remote, Day 103 - Yes, And

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. The days have been busy and undifferentiated. Except in the broader world. That continues to unfold in ways that I don’t fully understand. But then, how could I? I’ve never lived through a pandemic. I’ve never had an encounter with a police officer where I feared for my life. I’ve never lived in a large city where things like ‘national news’ really happened with any frequency. I’ve never seen a year like this one or been quite so concerned about where things were headed. Have any of us?

In trying to make sense of it, I come back to the same themes that I frequently do. I don’t understand that there are ‘sides’ to all this. We’re too divided, we can’t engage in meaningful discussion, we lack leadership, we lack an understanding of nuance, and between social media and regular media, it’s all just emotional media. All attention-seeking, all noise, no signal. And emotional media is incapable of informing us.

Yes, All Lives Matter. And when you say that, you really don’t understand what the statement “Black Lives Matter” is all about. Maybe you aren’t trying to be hateful, but you are being tone-deaf and attempting to take attention away from a real systemic issue that needs attention. Until Black Lives Matter in the same way, then all lives don’t matter.

Yes, “Defund the Police” is a terrible marketing slogan. And there’s a useful bit of thinking involved in it. As it turns out, “Reallocate a portion of police funding to social work, mental health and community outreach so they can better do their jobs” doesn’t fit on a sign or make for a great hashtag. Personally, I would have gone with ‘reform the police’. But reforms haven’t been effective and people are tired of the lack of change in a system that desperately needs changing.

Yes, police have a really hard job. And we owe it to them to provide a system where they can perform that job and be respected. That’s not what we have right now. Instead, they are overworked, undertrained, unaccountable, and far too many believe that they are at war with the very people they are expected to serve and protect. Instead of defunding, we should be talking about de-unionizing and de-militarizing them. Getting to the system we want will actually be more expensive. We need more of them and we need them to spend 20 to 25% of their time in training - human relations, mediation, conflict de-escalation, physical fitness, real-world scenarios, and non-lethal combatives. We need more of them so they aren’t exposed to people at their worst for an exhausting sixty hours a week. We need more of them so that they can actually form relationships with the community.

Yes, there is work to be done. And we have to truly listen to each other in order to do it. We have a public health crisis, a struggling economy, societal problems, untrusted institutions, and an array of broken systems in need of retooling. And we can do nothing about any of it without actually talking to each other instead of at each other.