There is something that has gone wrong in the exchanges between the police and the protesters who are reacting to the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York. While one side chants 'shut it down,' the other takes offense at any sympathy shown to the protesters and their cause. And as for my fellow Leftists, as long as we are content with the current divisions, we are missing an opportunity to further democracy.
Some of the protesters want to exert their power by stopping events or processes by their mere presence. At this point, such is actually a call to maintain the current power game only to change the identity of those who are in charge. It's not that I couldn't protest with them, it is that we are focussing more on who is in control rather than how to change the control game. So though I could join them because of the rampant racism and abuse of power that exist in law enforcement, a Leftist perspective to solving the problem is missing here.
And when we combine that with the negative police response to sympathetic expressions made to the protesters shown by NFL players, the end result is that we see ourselves in a tribal war between those who favor team Black versus those who favor team Blue. And what confirms that this war is tribal, that is what is right and wrong in this war is mostly determined by who does what to whom, is that we are being forced to pick sides. It seems that we are not allowed to show understanding to both the police, whose jobs can be excruciatingly difficult and even life risking, and people who belong to minorities who have continued to suffer from a harsh racism exercised by those in power.
There is a Leftist solution to our current tribal struggle that has been perhaps deliberately overlooked by many on the Left. That solution would not replace the protests, such would be wrong. Rather, that solution would be added to the protests. That solution would consist of creating groups of representatives from both law enforcement and minority communities who would both listen to each other and share their concerns so that they could perhaps come up with a list of joint suggestions and even demands on which our elected officials would act on. And here, we should be clear that there should be multiple such groups of representatives from both groups across the whole country who would be participating in such a venture.
Such a getting together is more of an exercise in democracy because we would be involving more of the stakeholders in our society in making decisions. The more stakeholders involved here, the more self-rule we are exercising. And the more self-rule we are exercising, the stronger is our democracy.
And for these meetings of the minds between those in law enforcement and those from minority communities to contribute to democracy, they must be put together voluntarily and in great enough numbers. If we wait for the government elites to put together these meetings or to speak for all of us, we would be showing our passivity. Here, we should note that citizen passivity and enjoying a strong democracy is a contradiction in terms. We can't have both. We should also note that democracy is not just exercising the right to speak one's mind, it is working to both create the opportunities for others to speak their minds and to listen to what they have to say despite any possible disagreements one might have with them. To work to have one's own group seize control so that they tell others what to do is undemocratic.
This blog stated in a previous post that democracy is a state of being for a society. That the more democratic a society is, the more all of its citizens are involved in self-rule. Thus, how democratic a society is, is at least partially determined by the number of democratic processes we practice and employ. Our problem is that we are so easily divided by ideologies and other differences and our personal identities have become so tribally determined that we easily sacrifice the practice of democracy in order to preserve our own group loyalty and advance the causes of our ideological and other tribes or gangs. And proof of how we have sacrificed our democratic processes and state of being can be seen in how unwilling we are to listen to our "opponents" speak. Proof of how we have forsaken democracy can be seen in how willing we are to live in our ideological and other ghettos.
So thus far, those who have been orchestrating the protests to the Ferguson and New York City grand jury decisions have repeated the mistake that we in the Occupy Movement committed. That mistake was not the mere conducting of protests and establishing encampments. Rather, that mistake was not including with our protests and encampments the inviting of our opponents, the 1%, to come to the table to break bread and talk. This invitation to come together to both listen and make demands should be extended by those from both the minority communities and law enforcement in multiple instances across the whole nation. And the refusal to accept such invitations or to manipulate the proceedings will tell all of us who is for or against the rest of us.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10