It’s been a difficult year, in which some of our societal warts have been exposed. What was hidden, has now been revealed. It is not indicative of the whole, but it is painful nonetheless.
Our reality: Optics and the narratives around them, win the day. To this day our history books are filled with the lies of omission. To this day we continue to stumble, because we fail to recall, or just as often were never taught, the lessons of the past. We debate the truth of a snapshot in time as though we have all the facts, when in reality our destinies have less to do with the objects in the picture, and more to do with who frames the picture, for they supply the all important perspective for us. In the human experience the path forward was, is and always shall be a product of our collective perception. With that in mind, brothers and sisters, let me add #mystory to our collective consciousness.
The year was 2004 and I was working and lodging in one of Chicago’s northern suburbs. That particular evening, I was returning from dinner to my hotel room. As I drove my car into the hotel parking lot I noticed a local police car turning into the parking lot behind me. But his lights weren’t on, so I proceeded to park my car and gathered my things (laptop book bag) to head in for the night. Well, before I reached the front door, the officer approached and asked if I would wait a minute. He quickly explained that there had been a robbery in the area and that I matched the description of the suspect. “Okay…?” I said, or something to that effect. He asked me to place my book bag on the ground, and explained that he would need to search it, as soon as a second officer arrived. “Okay…?” again from me. The second officer, a big burly guy, arrived and exited his vehicle quickly, and walked towards us briskly, as he unfastened his holster and placed his hand on his gun. This caused an involuntary rising of an eyebrow by me. Where the first officer had been polite, the second officer rolled in with a different vibe. So, then as the first officer is searching my bag, a third officer arrives, and he and his dog (the canine unit) exit their vehicle and approach the three of us. At that point, I literally laughed out loud. I’m not sure if that was the “appropriate” thing to do, but that’s what I did. When the first officer completed the search of me and my bag he handed my bag back to me and apologized for the inconvenience. As I turned and entered the hotel, the young guy working the front desk asked what that was all about. Once I told him, he just shook his head, and we both quietly recognized the deal. Each of those officers who stopped me came to that point and time carrying a different set of experiences and perception of those experiences. So, while the first officer was calm in his demeanor and approach, the second officer was clearly anxious. And even today, I wonder if the second officer had encountered me first how things would have played out.
The behavior of the police and my response (although, I initially laughed, I was fuming when I got back to my room) are both a product of our perception and past experiences. For instance, often the idea of prevalent criminal activity within one group or another is planted in our minds by the propaganda of our times, for the purposes of winning elections, passing legislation or selling product. But the way the human mind works, we are designed to take a little bit of information and extrapolate into a rule. In other words we look for patterns in our world. In the natural, unedited world this worked fine. However, in the world of today, where seemingly everything is edited with a purpose in mind (even if it’s as innocent as getting more eyeballs or clicks on a story or video). The fact is that violent crime in the USA has declined steadily since 1991, and yet many of us feel less unsafe than ever. Therefore it is vital that we go analog and back into the world to see for ourselves the reality of…