Who is the monster & who is the man?

Cities are burning. Emotions are high. Violence is bubbling under the surface and a murder was witnessed by millions. It’s been a tough week, to say the least.

One of my former students shared a meme from a movie I hadn’t watched in about 20+years.

It’s amazing to see so many similarities to what’s currently going on. If you have not watched it essentially, Frollo, who is in leadership over the area sees himself as the righteous savior from the “others” in his city. He killed Quasimodo’s mother and locked him away in the cathedral. Essentially hiding the murder and then rasing the child to hate himself and be grateful that he is able to be in Frollo’s presence. Interesting concept how self-hate can be taught.

As Esmeralda and her people attempt to survive in the city Frollo seems to disagree with the very existence of these people makes life very difficult for them. The differences of her people literally causes Frollo to attempt to kill Esmeralda unless she agrees to be with him. I won’t get into all of the nuances of this movie, but what I will say is that it takes a very interesting look at how we define good and evil.

As humans we like binary things, in evolutionary terms this kept us safe. Fire hot, water cold. Snake bad, broccoli good. Snap judgments were needed to keep us safe. The problem with snap judgments is that…it can be wrong. And if someone is in a position of power the consequences can’t just be devestating, they could be deadly. Snap judgments don’t have to be based on facts only perception. And that is what leads us here…to what is or who is a threat. Everyone wants to believe that a hero is always the hero and a villain is always a villain. It keeps us in our safe little, happy worlds. This is why when people, especially black people, bring up police brutality some people can get very offended.

When people have good experiences with something they tend to assume others do as well. For instance, I love a certain fast food brand. It brings me happy childhood memories and was always a treat. This same restaurant, well my husband had a less than happy experience, in fact he got food poisoning from it. Can both experiences be true…and even a fact for both he and I? Absolutely. But just because I had a great experience and have fond memories doesn’t negate the fact that my husband had a horrible experience. Both perceptions can exist without demeaning the other’s experience. The problem comes in when I try to make my husband eat again at that restaurant without checking the health score or demanding changes in the kitchen so no one else gets sick as well. That’s the issue with police brutality. Just because you may not have experienced it personally doesn’t mean that it is not happening and damn sure doesn’t mean something shouldn’t be done.

In this time of all lives matter rhetoric, are we really asking people to forgo their experiences and say that it doesn’t happen that often or derail conversation with well more white people are killed by police than black people. A cop’s job is dangerous, with that said some deaths may occur, but I see a killing differently than a murder.

Someone with a weapon attempting to harm, maim or kill you then yes, protect yourself. But a man on the ground not resisting stating he can’t breathe….those are not the same. Just because it may statically happen to one group more than another shouldn’t be the point. Shouldn’t the point be, unless there is a lethal threat that no one should die especially if they are unarmed? Specifically, it has been documented about the aggressive tactics police use in certain neighborhoods and against certain people.

Communication means information is exchanged. Talking means words are in the atmosphere and not in the hearts and minds. Let’s have more open communication, do some internal reflection on why the term Black lives matter bothers you (if it does) and address that first.

There is propensity of good and evil in ALL of us. We all have our own biases and prejudiced thoughts…what makes any of us dangerous is if we ignore the monster inside and keep acting like the man is all that exists. Fight the monster, the ugliness inside and this will allow for a safer world for all of us.

Keep pushing,

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