There are not many things we can agree on in this world anymore. But I think we can all agree 2020 has been one of the worst years on record. At least in my lifetime. Our elders can probably make a better argument for other years.
But if you were one to believe in Doomsday predictions, this year has given us plenty of “signs” the end may be near.
It’s hard to even remember there were fires in Australia just a few months ago, followed by a global pandemic we are still battling and now the civil unrest that has been caused by the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Now a tropical system may be heading for the northern Gulf. If it doesn’t turn into a major catastrophic hurricane, it’s not being very 2020. I swear I didn’t even want to watch the SpaceX launch last weekend because I was certain it was going to explode too.
We are supposed to be all in this “together.” Tragedy is supposed to unite us. We are supposed to work together to get back to at least where we were or hopefully to an even better place.
But I have never felt like we have been more apart than we are right now.
I actually thought for about a half-second the COVID-19 pandemic was going to give us common purpose. But alas, two roads eventually diverged in virus-covered wood, the teams chose the roads they usually travel by and it has made absolutely zero difference.
We are still a toxic, polarized planet. Maybe even more so now than before the pandemic.
You can find a report by “experts” to support whatever you want to believe. And I am not talking about quack doctors — I am talking about doctors and researchers from Oxford, Stanford and other institutions revered as the world’s finest. All with differing theories and ideas.
I don’t even know what to believe anymore. I think the problem is we still don’t know what we don’t know. Why can’t we just say that?
But when did a pesky problem like needing more data and research and, most importantly, time ever stop our political camps from latching on to whichever expert report fits the most useful narrative for their purposes and using it to advance their own agenda?
Even wearing a mask (or not) in public has become some sort of a political lightning rod. Just think about how ridiculous that is for a few minutes.
You can live in whatever reality you choose. And that is frightening because it often results in only accepting the truth of your “side” or news network and completely shutting out and considering opposing viewpoints and independent thought. Granted, some of those viewpoints are insane, but those are easy to spot. Thoughtful, reasonable folks on both sides of the political aisle (yes, they do exist!) often have more in common than not. But we are all so busy screaming at each other, commonality gets lost.
Reality always, always, always falls somewhere in the middle, sometimes left of it, sometimes right of it. But it does not exist in the worlds of the extreme.
Now in the aftermath of the horrific death of George Floyd, the conversation has shifted from what caused an officer to do this — to put his knee on this man’s neck for NINE minutes while he was already subdued and handcuffed while none of his fellow officers did a thing! — and what can be done to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again to conspiracy theories on both sides of “outsiders” coming in to sow social discord. The right says it’s the left. The left says it’s the right.
That part of the conversation is just noise. We should not focus on that or get distracted by it.
It is hard to know what is real anymore. I’ll have to be honest, there have been some days, especially of late, I question why we even bother even putting a newspaper out anymore if people are only going to believe what they want to believe.
But I do know a few things to be true and real.
I do know thousands of Mobilians protested peacefully on Sunday and honored the memory of George Floyd in the manner he deserved. And brought attention to the issue in a beautiful way.
I do know Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste got down in the crowd himself and answered question after question from protestors when he could have stayed at home.
I do know there have been many displays of solidarity by law enforcement and mayors across this country.
I do know not every person with a badge is a murderous racist.
I do know the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of people do not want to see anyone’s life taken like Floyd’s was. And want to see the officers brought to justice.
I do know most people do not want people harassed by police or rent-a-cops or old ladies on Nextdoor based on the color of their skin.
I do know most people want all children to have the same opportunities for success.
I do know most people never want to see anyone lose their spouse or child — or even want them to be scared they may every time they walk out the door.
I have to believe in these truths. But maybe I am just as guilty as believing what I want as everyone else. I really don’t know anymore.
I want to believe we all want to get to a better place, but what I absolutely don’t know is how or the “right way” to get there.
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