With Dallas fast becoming yesterday’s tragedy, echoing countless tragedies that have come before, is it lasting change that we truly do seek?
As Sunday morning small talk replaces the language of violence on the streets of downtown Dallas, the world too moves on, that conversation shifting now to the periphery, propped up by analysis. The reasons become the “why”, not the “how”. While the victims mourned, the antagonist shamed and the motivations clear, the lessons stay pertinent. While we may, can, or have separated ourselves from this issue by virtue of geography, the problem that manifested itself into the index finger of Micah Johnson is unsolved, and it remains one we all must bear responsibility for.
While some sort of justice has been meted out (cops kill man who killed cops), the story of man who etched his own response to the vicissitudes he faced vis-à-vis police violence he saw and the hatred he felt, although unique in this instance, also remains extremely familiar.
As the bloodied ancient head of the medusa named race hate raised itself once more, I learned something dire:
we’re not getting better at this.
I’m unsure what has been learned from this most recent bloodletting.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Orlando: Dear America – Put down your guns
- Ferguson Riots & Tyrone Harris: The war of opinion
- Bigotry: We may have the “right”, but must we carry on like this?
For quite some time, I truly felt that as older generations run into the new, the following generations would be more tolerant. They’d reflect the environment they walk through, as opposed to what has come before. I figured that the rotten fruit of vestigial hatred – good old fashioned racism, even if blanketed in jest – would fall from the family tree as the rotten ancient fruit of time past.
But in this regard, I was wrong. And extremely naive.
Mr Johnson was 25. This year I’ll be 31. While the truth is harsh, he was one of my generation, one the acolytes I hoped would pray at the altar of acceptance.
I re-watched the horrendous footage this morning; a tapestry of violence painted on the streets of Dallas. Upon social media, its brushstrokes carved by hands motivated by fear and anger, the people of Ferguson, Baltimore, Orlando, Dallas and others, feel the same hopeless visceral grip on their hearts as the world silently shakes its head, mute, as we read the headlines with absolutes.
America’s worst, World’s worst etc; with every poorly thought out or primordially taught racial barb fired, incremental anonymous progress is rent asunder. The human recipe for the new century seems to be avarice powered by an AR-15.
These truths represent the death of something I treasured most: optimism. The winged, golden hope that one morning things will be fine, and that colour or sexual preference will no longer be the issues they are at present.
After horrible, unspeakable violence, the media and collective response is the same: speak, act, condemn, repeat.
How do we escape this bitter treadmill?
As Earl Graham Jr, a pastor from Arkansas said in response to Dallas: “When will enough be enough?”
I earnestly believe that enough will never be enough, for the treadmill we’re consigned to run has come to define who we are. Yes, gun reform in America is needed, and the gap needs to be bridged here, but a solution it is not. I put forward that things don’t change, because we don’t want to change. The argument is vicious, but quickly fades.
By and large, most people I know are not bigots. But still, what we hope is a minor voice does speak its bigotry loudest. These schisms launch evening news monologues and TV series (see Cops), as well as electronic column inches, such as this. Intolerance will always get the bigger everyday spotlight; perhaps we should give tolerance the larger pedestal. (A sentence that I feel stupid for writing, because I know that we’ll never be any different to what we are now.)
While every puzzle may have an answer, this one has no picture on the box to guide us.
And while eyes may have been sent rolling in a wave of “oh really” sarcasm, these obvious truths represent the death of something I treasured most: optimism. The winged, golden hope that one morning things will be fine, and that colour or sexual preference will no longer be the issues they are at present, as we look back and wonder what the fuck the problem actually was.
Can that Utopia be reached? Maybe the best we can hold out for are those small orange moments, when after the earthquake of brutality, our attention is turned toward tolerance, and again we can all naively think of what could be if things were different, and ask important questions which are ultimately left unanswered as the ease of the status quo elbows its way back into our lives, and intolerance takes its place at the head of the table.
Until next time.