I had a whole writing blog post cooked up for you guys today, but, honestly, I have something else I’d rather say to you. It’s been pressing on me for a while now.
It’s about Ferguson. It’s not about Ferguson.
My main comment on the events–as I’m only internet-educated on it–is to say, with heartfelt sadness, that I am so very sorry that young man died. That lives have been lost and ruined. That people are angry enough to protest in the streets–that their needs have been ignored long enough that they feel they have to.
My social media feeds are covered in commentary on Ferguson, and the death of Eric Garner. They’re covered in bathos and pathos, responses ranging from the angry and outraged to the smug and unchanging. They nitpick details–tiny details–that are, at best, fourth or fifth string in relation. Everyone, it seems, has found a soapbox.
A young man died. He is dead. He will never, ever, speak or walk or run or listen to music ever again. He won’t go to college, or get a new job, or marry and have children. He won’t grow old, have a midlife crisis, listen to his grandchildren playing out in the yard.
And yet here we sit, bathed in electronic light, debating the minute points of the last minutes of his life, debating whether or not he deserved to die, whether or not he was a ‘thug’. We post our opinions–hateful, sometimes, on either side–and we get another beer, or we give our husbands and wives a kiss, or we go on in to work.
We continue, in essence, to live.
None of us–well, okay, almost none of us–are crime scene investigators. We are not lawyers, doctors, police officers. We are not experts. A keyboard, internet access, and a few newspapers don’t make you an expert. The only person who knows, one hundred percent, what happened is Darren Wilson, and he’s told his side of the story. You either believe him, or you don’t. A jury made its decision. You either believe it was fair, or you don’t.
If you have something to say, make it constructive. Make it helpful. Show support and kindness, love and understanding. Help those who need help.
If you have an opinion, don’t refrain from sharing it–of course not, where would we be if we did that?
This media giant, this sailor’s knot of anger and discussion that is Ferguson. This is the story of a man’s last few minutes on earth. The same with Eric Garner.
Say what you want about the behavior of protesters, the state of policing in our country, race relations. Say what you want about the fairness of the judicial system, precisely when an unarmed man poses a threat to an armed policeman.
But please, stop speaking ill of the dead, and quit dissecting their corpses.
Black lives matter. They do. And these lives weren’t those of celebrities. They didn’t plan on being famous. And when these lives end–early, abruptly–they deserve respect, and compassion, and restraint.
I don’t know these people, and I know they’ll never read this, but my best goes out to the friends and families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. I know this must be a terrible and trying time for them, and I hope they find, if not happiness, peace.
The internet–and, by extension, the world–needs a few reminders of humanity, and basic human decency. Please provide them by being a civil human being, and remembering that everything you say online–everything–is public. The friends and families of these two men could–probably won’t, but potentially could–read everything you have to say. So have some respect in a public forum, because, for all you know, someone’s mother might be reading it.