How “new” will the New Year be?
As we begin a new year, ailment recipe we reflect on the year that has just ended and the year we face ahead, doctor with both a sense of hope and of trepidation. How “new” will this New Year be? There are still so many issues we face as a nation that look and feel like festering sores, open wounds, with a continuing discontent and confrontational dissonance inside our political discourse, that it remains difficult to see how this year will be any different from the last. Just under the surface are so many questions that defy the logic of “reasonable people” as to why the year ahead looks more likely to continue in the same vein than to move the culture in a positive direction away from the social, political and cultural deficit that has us caught up in a cycle of violence and unrest with no end in sight.
The universal acknowledgement of implicit bias, institutional and structural racism, a renewed will for criminal justice reform from the top down, and sensible gun law reform are the pillars that must be raised up as a response to the culture of fear and dysfunction in which we currently live. And yet, it is difficult to see how we turn the conversation into actionable policy and practice. How much data do we need to collect? How many bodies, how many unarmed Black people have to be shot by inadequately “trained” law enforcement, or so-called prosecutors impaneling grand jury(s) that are shills to hide said prosecutors’ real motif as defenders of the broken criminal justice system, before there is a sufficient enough outcry from the citizenry to make the CHANGES that are necessary? How long before we become sick and tired of being sick and tired? How long before all citizens, Black, white, and others, recognize that the collective energy of “we the people” is a most powerful and potent force, and it is truly the only energy that has, historically, ignited social or political reform?
The seeds for change rest within our individual communities. It is the “kitchen table” dialogues held in private homes, confrontation and conviction of congregations in communities of faith, civic gatherings, and the call for the accountability of public officials that will, ultimately, galvanize the people to demand change, to reform and rebuild in a nation that has a crisis of both conscience and national identity. The crisis we face is so acute that it has begun to infect our ability to believe in the “American Dream” or the platitudes of Life, Liberty and Justice for All.
For generations, our vision of this great nation has embraced belief in our foundational principles, even when the “lived experience” for so many citizens did not support that belief. Prayer and faith can only carry us so far. The truth is we know what we know and the time has come to take action, to respond, to make the changes we need to make. If we do not “ACT”, the dis-ease and infection will so destroy the fabric of the “American Dream” that the frayed threads will no longer hold it together…and the promise of this great experiment will erupt into a “new civil war” whose enemy will be denial, complacency, and benign neglect. We will no longer be able to merely survive, holding on by our fingernails. We will have to take responsibility for our own destruction. How new will this New Year be? What’s your plan, your “new” course of ACTION?
Up Next Week: Why No Charges? Hardly Ever!
Correction: Executive Order 9066 was issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, not President Eisenhower as stated in the December 30, 2015 column.