People across the world are angry.
In the Black Lives Matter movement, they’re angry with what they see as systemic racism across law enforcement.
At-risk people are angry at protestors gathering in the middle of a pandemic while they are staying home and following what health officials say.
And people with friends and family in law enforcement are angry that good cops are getting lumped in with the bad ones.
People are just angry and they all want you on their side.
But why do we have to pick a single side? It seems whenever an issue like this is raised we’re dived up and sorted into camps of “yes” or “no”, “with” or “against.”
Why can’t there be another side to the story?
Now I’ll confess, I don’t really have any Black friends, so that perspective I’m sorely missing out on, but I have had my fair share of encounters with police and I can certainly emphasize with some of that negativity.
I get nervous when police are around.
But a different nervousness–being pulled over for tinted windows, getting stopped at a DUI check on a Friday night, or getting caught speeding by a ghost car.
I don’t worry about being assaulted by an officer, much less getting shot by one.
It’s that sort of nervousness, that sort of fear that many people are feeling regularly that’s gnawing at my thought process when these protests get brought up.
I’m a big believer in each problem stemming from a tangible cause.
Are police departments inherently prejudice? I don’t think so, but I also can’t ignore so many people talking about extreme experiences with officers.
There’s a cause for anger and resentment, regardless of it stemming from racism or not.
To those angry at protestors breaking max gathering restrictions and leaving more people at risk of catching COVID-19: I hadn’t even considered before it was presented to me.
But I’m so glad it was because I find such hard truths in it; these people are being put at risk, and it is unfair to them to have housemates to be out and rubbing elbows with people while a highly infectious virus – still without a vaccine! – is making headlines around the world.
But is it anyone’s business besides the people tied to these protestors?
We on the outside of the situation have no idea what kind of situations these protestors might be living in when they go home at night.
Plus, if at-risk people aren’t making a point to voice their concerns and take steps to keep themselves safe, then the fault lies with them; self-reliance is a virtue, and we can’t base our concerns with how the actions of another will impact us.
And then there are the police.
I’ll make no secret of my general suspicion for those in positions of authority; all one has to do is look into incidents such as the Oka Crisis, a confrontation between local government and a Mohawk tribe over disputed land the town of Oka wished to develop a golf course on, to understand the role police fill within government bodies: muscle on the mainland.
Are there good cops? Unquestionably. Even with my view, I can look at officers in the community with admiration for the service they provide.
But it’s not the good cops that are the concern, it’s the bad ones and their ability to keep being bad that have people up in arms.
Think of it this way: a body must work with its collective parts to keep healthy. If an organ becomes infected, that infection must be purged, lest it fester and bring irreparable harm to the body.
The organ still performs vital functions for the body, but now it’s better than before.
These are the sides I’ve seen in this issue, each distinct and with valid perspectives to look from.
But sides only persist as they’re allowed; being a critically thinking individual opens you to infinite amounts of knowledge to gain once you open yourself to the conflicting perspectives of an issue.
Don’t be a one of a million, be one in a million.
Be your own side.