The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, is all the rage. Everyone’s frothing at the mouth spewing their own personally tailored narrative. We’ve got those who paint Michael Brown as a harmless gentle giant gunned down in cold blood by a racist white cop. Others raise the rallying cry about the encroaching police state that sees the protests and looting as a chance to set up shop. Some people decry the futile lives that poverty creates, while others lament the scourge of fatherlessness among American blacks.
Incidentally, for all the narratives competing for supremacy, I haven’t heard anyone demanding justice for the scrawny Indian convenience store cashier that Brown manhandled while stealing a carton of cheap cigars just minutes prior to the shooting. I don’t see any vigils for all the local businesses looted and vandalized by Brown’s black brothers and sisters. And I certainly don’t see this kind of impassioned, take-to-the-streets response every time there’s a black-on-black murder—which happens about 10 times as frequently as any white person killing someone black.
No, what we are witnessing is a classic case of people allowing themselves to get whipped up into a frenzy without pausing to wait for all the facts to come in. From the race pimps and tabloid media masquerading as serious news, to the Ferguson locals trapped in their microcosm of disaffection—everyone is being played for a fool and scrambling to refashion their stance every time a new piece of the puzzle leaves egg on their face. They are the timeless pawns of history, ever reliable to play their part getting caught up in the moment without looking at the bigger picture.
I know that it’s really hard to detach yourself from an emotional event such as the Brown killing but if you strive to be wise and in control of your own mind, you simply must take the eagle’s view with patience as events unfold. The situation in Ferguson appears to touch on many significant issues coming to a head in America and, if the Justice Department’s moving in to conduct its own autopsy on Brown’s body is any indication, it isn’t going away anytime soon.
And this is why I urge you to watch this spectacle play out with a cautious eye, because I suspect that under the guise of seeking justice, truth, or anything else that sounds good in a sound byte, most parties involved are just looking to make political hay. For example, Congressional elections are coming up and the reeling Obama administration is grasping for anything to help the Democrats win some seats. Alex Jones has his team on the street documenting proof that tyrannical foot soldiers are implementing martial law. And old Al Sharpton is dusting off his tired-and-true speeches about racism.
Interestingly, everyone’s narrative has a little bit of truth and righteousness to it—the key point here is that the wise observer understands that they all have an agenda too. You have to be prudent, you can’t get caught up in the rush. Take in all the data, synthesize it in your own way, then gather some more data. This is a mile marker on the path to maturity. Let others dash madly into No Man’s Land while not even knowing why or for whom they get torn to pieces.
For a while I’ve gotten the sensation that the US feels like it did back in 1992, the contentious election year that saw the LA riots and an economic recession submarine George H.W. Bush’s post-Gulf War high and officially end the Reagan years as Bill Clinton won the presidency. The 80s symbolically ended at Clinton’s January 1993 inauguration, and what a much different decade the 90s was.
Are we in store for such a massive tone shift in the near future? With so much about our world seemingly on the brink—not only economically, militarily, and diplomatically but also in the realm of our whole world construct as people lose faith in the system and use the internet to shatter the historical narrative about past wars, religions, and events like 9/11—it might only be a matter of time. In which case we need to keep our heads about us and above the fray, but with our eyes open and fingers on the pulse.