“What’s the big deal concerning rioting, looting, burning down homes and businesses, can’t you see we are fighting oppression?”
“Oppression? In a free country? I don’t see how you think you’re oppressed.”
“Racism is oppression.”
“Yes, but racism isn’t as prevalent as people make it out to be.”
My friend Todd is on a roll today. He is all fired up about the latest cop killing. Of course, I consider it a tragedy but the aftermath of the riots is tallied at half a billion dollars. Plus, all this racket hasn’t brought the victim back to life. So, this a futile gesture.
“You’re a racist.”
“Really? Because I don’t think people should be acting like a bunch of idiots, I’m racist?”
“You know, I have an idea. Why don’t these rioters go join the police department? Then they can be the change they are seeking. For instance, they can go undercover and gather evidence against racist cops. Or they can provide intelligence about abuses of power.”
Todd slams his hand down on the table and glares at me. His jaws clench and relax. It looks like he may explode at any moment.
“You don’t understand the struggle these poor people have had to endure. We should allow them to burn down these buildings.”
“Uh-huh. You can trace all this violent behavior back to one attitude that is prevalent today.”
“And what attitude is that, Josiah?”
“Oh, it’s three little words: I am owed.”
“Entitlement. That is the source of all this insanity.”
“I can’t believe I served with you in the Army!”
“So, I can’t have a dissenting opinion concerning the riots? I am just supposed to cower to your beliefs and hope that I’m not labeled by you or one of your “we all think alike” friends?”
“You can have your opinion, but we’re no longer friends.”
Todd gathers his things and walks out the door. That about sums up life in America today. You either subscribe to the mob mentality or you’re wrong. You either go with the current trends or you’re cast aside. If you’re mouth doesn’t say the proper hash tags, or spout the most current talking points, you’re a racist, xenophobe, gay-bashing hater.
I sit down in my recliner and look down my drive. These events are a very slippery slope, and we may not recover from the damage we have inflicted upon ourselves.
In my mind an old Sunday School song plays: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.
I am fearful of what comes next, but what do I know? Maybe things will turn around, but I kind of doubt it.
My phone rings as I hum the song. My eyes never leave the drive as I reach for the house phone.
“Hey, it’s Todd.”
“Yeah, what do you want?”
“Look man, we did fifteen months in the desert. We got shot at, blown up, and was blessed to come home. I don’t want to fight about this crap.”
I nod my head and say, “me either.”
Todd pauses and then replies, “you’re my brother, we just have different opinions on this. Are we cool?”
“Yeah man. We are good. Be careful out there.”
We hang up and I continue to stare down the drive. “If only we could learn this as a society. All of us need to pull together and be united. I fear we have run our course and extinction awaits us.”