If you want attention, you must do or say something close to what people will recognize. But with a twist. That’s how Black Lives Matter works.
There is a large and loud discussion about the organization. I doubt many people would disagree with their premise, but the twist comes when people impose their own version of the truth onto the general idea. Remember how brains map external reality onto an internal idea of reality. The internal reality “interprets” the meaning.
That interpretation could go two ways.
If “Black Lives Matter” was instead Black Lives Matter Too, then the “All Lives Matter” rhetoric would be unnnecessary. When the movement was created, the organizers had to know that most people would not see the implicit “too.” Attention!
The automatic response would be a response to a different idea. Black Lives Only Matter. The implied “Only” provides the impetus for the racist outrage and high dudgeon from commentators like Rudy Giuliani. In fairness to the mayor, some of the protesters are behaving as if the “only” is actually there.
We need to take several steps back and notice that attention is a necessary precursor to change. Props to the organizers for getting the attention they need. Notice though, attention seekers tend not to be great problem solvers.
The problem must be brought to light before rational procedures can appear. Others, not the attention seekers, will fit in the change slot. The solution will likely be two-fold and take a long time to become ordinary. The two I see are:
- Police shall become more judgement and less rule oriented. Many officers believe in rules as deciding the future of society. They do not. Society is too complex for that. Common sense first. Common sense is hard to train, but if rules are paramount, it cannot be trained at all. Rules are good guidelines and no more. The harder issues will be with police officers who are afraid or using steroids for body building. Officers who rely on rules instead of judgement or who fear tense situations or who are enraged should be culled. No new ones should be hired.
- The citizens must come to respect the police as those who preserve order. The citizen who believes a police officer to be an adversary, seeking to punish, or not understanding, will tend to be confrontational. Amateurs in physical conflict with well-equipped, trained, professionals always lose. Citizens need to smarten up. My experience is that if you show respect you get respect. If you show disrespect, not so good for you.
The hard questions are where to begin and how.
I don’t know that answer, but instinct says police must begin to change first. I would bet that at least 80% of officers would prefer to deal from a use your judgement standard. That is how you help. Administration would be harder, but outcomes would be better. Maybe cull some of the administration. For the citizens, it is likely required that they stop creating situations that the police can fear.
No quick fix, but responsible people cannot wish for the current situation to continue or grow.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772