Over the past few years, news across America has reported on protests over politics, police encounters and several other hot buttons. I have not participated in any of these protests, nor am I one to fully trust the media reports (due to personal experiences with the media), but I have watched the many videos that display what is taking place during these protests. Now I am sure that there are peaceful protests in areas around the country, but it is surely clear that the protests are becoming more and more violent. The camera footage echoes threats and cursing. You witness individuals covering their faces as they assault police officers, vandalize private property and set businesses on fire (often while others are cheering in support). No matter what took place beforehand, I cannot wrap my head around why these acts of hatred and violence are “okay.”
Now before you begin to judge me (if you haven’t already), let me state a small piece of my background. I never discuss my political views, so don’t read into any of this as if there is a political message because there is not. I’m focused on humanity, not political viewpoints. I do believe in America’s Freedom of Speech. I understand the value and I think it is fine to state our differences. Also, I was raised in an environment where we hated police. I watched police brutality in my home, I witnessed firsthand the corruption of the justice system and I was personally harassed by defense team members for an attorney general. So no, I am not looking out on this with rose-colored glasses. I am not naïve to the injustice around our country. I am not blindly listening to what others say and believing their word as if it were 100% true. Instead, I am coming from a viewpoint where I have seen the reality of what happens throughout my entire life. That being said, there are some things I fully disagree with.
Police officers should not be murdered because of their career choice. Now, I do not agree in murdering anyone; however, America has been witnessing tons of murders of police officers who are simply sitting in their patrol car or responding to a call for help. This is not right. No matter how much you dislike them, nor no matter the amount of brutality you have seen by their hands, no one should take another person’s life because of a uniform they wear. I could never be a police officer. I am not willing to run into a building where someone is killing others in an effort to save lives – I’m just being real! That’s not my calling! I respect that some people are willing to do this job and I believe they should be able to carry out their duties without a fear of being murdered just because they are a cop. I also do not feel like it is my role as a human being to judge these individuals. Until you have been in someone’s exact situation (which is physically impossible), you do not know what your reaction would be. I know the justice system has corruption (hint: there are aspects of corruption everywhere; it’s just a reality), and so it might not seem like “justice will be served,” but I still do not think it is right to murder another human being.
Protests are to demonstrate your difference in opinion, not a time when you are given a free pass to break the law. This week I saw in the news that there was a protest in South Korea. There are numerous reports about the event and the number of participants ranges from 500,000 – 1,000,000. That is a huge number of people, even if it was on the smaller end of the range. These protestors were demonstrating their disagreement with the president and corruption that they believe took place. Now, I do not know the facts and I will not fully trust whatever I read about it; however, they led this protest and it was peaceful! People were shouting, walking and holding signs. You did not see people responding in violence. Now these people are just as upset as Americans, so why is it that we are equating our right to protest with a false assumption that protests equal violence? Even as children, we quickly learn that people will not listen to you when you are behaving in an unruly manner. If you want to evoke real change, truly get people to hear your voice and understand your valid points, then you have to approach the dialogue in a way that makes people stay around to hear you instead of putting up walls (no pun intended) that only create deeper divisions. Having violence override the goals of a protest will not lead to a victory. It will only hurt people, ruin property and create even further distance from reaching a mature solution.
America is far from perfect; no country is. It is not a place where justice always prevails. It is not a place where people always show respect and love. It is a broken country because we are living in a broken world. However, that does not give us the right to create more damage and destruction (pretty sure the Constitution doesn’t have a part that says “it’s your right to break the law whenever you are mad”). If we want to see real change in society, in the government, in the education system, or any other aspect of life, then we need to open doors of dialogue instead of closing them. We need to stand united for the overall goal of improving humanity, even when we disagree on matters. We need to approach people in a way that presents our willingness to hear their side and to respectfully share our view. It is only when we are able to respectfully create and sustain dialogue that true change will take place. It is only through that which you will be able to open the eyes of another.
Ahmeli… that we will learn to protest without it leading to violence so that doors are opened.
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