Blind to Brutality

Four little boys screeched, “Help us! They’re using batons and won’t stop! Lady, please help us! They’re beating us up! They might kill us. They’ll take me to jail! I didn’t do nothin'”  I quietly observed the boys’ laughter-filled playtime, slowly becoming more and more appalled at what they considered play.

Police brutality. They think it’s funny. The boys couldn’t have been more than seven. They already think brutality is funny. 

By the age of 12, I was a hopeless tomboy. I enjoyed horsing around with the guys much more than painting my nails or trying on my sister’s prom dress. I know what it’s like to have a childhood of accidentally going “too far” with wrestling and playing cops and robbers. It’s all in good fun. Welcome to a healthy childhood. 

But adding police brutality? Imagining the role of a “bad cop” misusing his authority? No, that wasn’t my childhood.

I know I’m not a parent. I realize it’s quite possible I’ll come back to to this post and disagree with my younger self after having actual parental experience. But at this point, all I have is frustration over the fact that our culture’s children have very little understanding of the sacredness of life. Many of them have even less respect for authority. 

I had a childhood packed to the hilt of learning respect and the difference between right and wrong. The current generation of children are learning their version of those things by watching media. They are also watching us — their parents and role models. 

Are we modeling wholesome characteristics which are worth them mirroring? Or, are we reacting in anger, sarcasm and cynicism and simply shrugging our shoulders and telling ourselves they’ll understand better when they grow up? 

A seven-year-old knew that a baton can kill. We need to stop shrugging our shoulders.

Silence is Okay Today

There are so many things we say today. “Gone, but never forgotten.” “Thank you to those who gave all.” “We remember…” 

I’m guilty of it, too. Memorial Day, whether you possess approval of our current government or not, is a day that urges us to say something for our freedom. Wordsmith or not, one-liners abound. 

But then, you look into the eyes of a lone soldier who carries decades of survivor’s guilt. You say hello to a mother who never got to see her son be a father. You shake hands with a father who hugs a flag instead of a daughter. 

It’s then the words stop… No words are needed, but often we forget that. 

For many, Memorial Day is no different than yesterday. They always wake up remembering. They always go to bed contemplating their ability for one more day of freedom because of their loved one’s obedience. 

When you meet those people, accept the need for silence & let your presence & hug be enough. Sometimes, overwhelming gratitude leads to silence which will only be cheapened by words. 

Silence is okay, today.