Friday, January 29, 2016

Officials Shoot Oregon Protestor - What Does The Video Mean?

Officials shot one of the Oregon protesters at a road block.  They've released the video.  Lots of thoughts go through my head. 

Once more, why aren't officers trained in non-lethal restraint and capture? A shooting and a death should be the very last resort.   Cops who kill should be thought of as failing to do their jobs.  But they need better training.   I think of Asian martial arts masters whose training is for self-defense, and who use their control of their bodies to disarm their enemies. But a gun is so much easier. No years of training of the body and the mind.  Just pull a trigger.

I can't help but think - well, white guys get shot too.  But that's not the answer.  No one should get shot except in the most extreme circumstances.  I think the approach to wait things out was good.  Let the cold and the boredom take down the protesters.   The buildings are high priority places, particularly in the winter.  But then, why this?  Where's Zorro with his whip when we need him?  Where are all the Kung Fu masters?

I think of how people watching this who have no sympathy for the protesters, DO have sympathy for other protesters, and vice versa.

I think, in the future, others who see this will think:  if they're just going to die anyway, why not crash into the vehicles and take some cops with them, rather than swerve off into the snow?   Or maybe he thought he'd get around them.   This does counter the report that he was on his knees with his hands held high, but it still doesn't look good.

OK, these are all things that go through my head as I watch the video.  Maybe it only means that a cop, in a high adrenalin situation panicked and pulled the trigger.

The bigger issues are why Americans are angry and divided.  They involve the income disparity in the US.  College grads facing graduation with huge debts that cut down their options.  They need to get a job and pay off the debts.   They have less room to fail.  Of course, that's a luxury that Americans have had - second, third, and fourth chances - that other people around the world don't have. Many don't even have first chances.  

And even those who went into 'sure career' fields, like petroleum engineering, find out that timing is everything.  And it's older folks facing retirement with not much savings.  It's hard working folks who have saved their money who think their success is solely their own doing, who don't see the help they got along the way.  And feel no sympathy for those who didn't have the skills or the will power or the luck to retire financially comfortable.  And maybe they've got money, but the pursuit of that money has left many of their family members wounded.

The reports of white males' life expectancy dropping surely tells us something about the fears behind their bravado.
" Mortality rates were 60% to 76% higher than they would have been if the trends of the 1980s and 1990s had continued in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma."
Six of the seven mentioned are in the top ten most religious states.  And six are the six poorest states in the country (Oklahoma is #13.)

Anger and violence breed anger and violence.  Cooperation and generosity require a basic level of self-confidence and trust.  Yet even the most bitter are willing to give their money or their time to help others.

There are no easy answers.  We need to start talking to each other, stop demonizing each other, find common ground.  We need to stop fomenting hate and giving attention to those who do.

Ramble, ramble, ramble.

One thing that I can only hope might come from this video:  Angry white males watching this might, for even an instant, relate to angry blacks watching their sons shot by police.  Though most of the blacks we've seen killed on video last year were unarmed.

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