We are imagining two people representative of the opposite ends of the spectrum of the issues rendering our republic.
Person one is an African American woman in her late 20's. Let's call her Sharon. Person two is a White male police officer of the same age. Let's call him Hank.
No stereotyping here, so maybe Sharon is single, or married. Maybe she has children or doesn't. But Sharon has seen a lot growing up. She has seen or heard of the prior generation of Black men wiped out by the pandemic of draconian sentencing laws that aimed to warehouse and not rehabilitate and resulted in her country having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Maybe Sharon comes from a middle class or upper class family and had an easier time obtaining an education, or maybe she is from a poor home where her options were limited to a series of minimum wage service jobs. In either event she has experienced the pain and tragedy of the stigma of her race, or she knows people who have. She has never had a good experience with someone like Hank. .
Hank comes from a lower middle class blue collar family. There was always food on the table, but no European tours in his teen years. He has a two year associates degree from a community college. If he is not a racist and ignorant, the people Hank knows and spends his time with are. They have taught him to blame his troubles and lack of opportunities on immigrants and people of color. Learning and higher education was never part of the values Hank was taught. As an officer on patrol, Hank just wants to do his job with no problems, but he is more likely to put his hand on his holster when making a traffic stop of Black men then White men. Most of Hank's experiences with Sharon have been negative. Some people like Sharon have cursed at him for no reason when he was doing his job. At some point, rather than ignore the hostility Hank decided he wasn't going to take it anymore. Hank now uses his discretion to arrest people like Sharon and her friends and family and that in turn generates more hostility by Sharon towards Hank. This causes Hank to arrest even more people like Sharon. This is a circle that has not been broken in decades.
There was one man who as a poet, had the ability to write words that could touch the soul of his country. It turns out that he was also the 16th President of the United States and led our country in times even tougher than these. We have not seen his likes since an assassin's bullet cut Abraham Lincoln's life short, but the conclusion to his first inaugural address contains words of poetry, healing, reconciliation, and genius. Now is the time for such words:
I am loathe to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Please read those words out loud, over and over, until the genius of his prose touches your soul and you say "Aha! Now I understand what he meant."
Only when enough people have done that, will the better angels of our nature heal our wounds.
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