Silence In the Static

1967 Riots in Grand Rapids, MI

I don't need to tell you there's a lot going on right now. 

I've been pretty withdrawn about saying much, not to mention sending any emails out. Like you, I too have felt rather overwhelmed by circumstance lately! 

The last week or so I don't know if I'll be waking up in the late sixties, the great depression or in a sci-fi zombie apocalypse movie...

It's looking like all three! (Bring on the murder hornets! Lol)

No doubt we're all feeling it. I'm sure the pandemic and economic situation that we're going through contributed to the flash point we hit regarding George Floyd's death. 

Our country has been struggling with these issues for a long, long time. 

See, This Is Why...

I have remained silent... 

I have so much running through my head right now, I could literally write for hours... Or not at all.

I hesitate so things can settle a bit before I write something down and hit that send button...

There's enough static out there... Everyone has some strong opinions. And they're getting stronger. 

Sides are being taken and lines drawn...

You may be thinking, "Good! They ought to be!"

I hesitate...

The more we make this an 'US' & 'Them' thing, the further away we get from any real solution.

Believe it or not, this isn't an either/or situation... At least if we want to come together. 

I typically say that I am fortunate to have friends, colleagues, students and clients that span the spectrum of opinions, politics, philosophical ideals, and the like...

However, it has been challenging trying to cut through all of the propaganda on both sides to meet people in the middle to have a conversation. The middle seems to be evaporating. 

It has been surprising me that people on both ends of the spectrum have made sweeping statements about choosing sides. The rationalization of violence on either end of the argument leaves me sick in my efforts to meet people where they are or bring some clarity to the situation. 

It is a multi faceted problem where blanket policies on both sides are literally killing us!

Either / Or... All or Nothing...

When we can begin to see beyond the over simplified meme; the Either / Or, All or Nothing Situation....

We have to challenge ourselves to look beneath the narrative (I'm beginning to hate that word!). 

We have to become more responsible toward each other. Which means we have to be more responsible to ourselves...

Way more!

But, it takes effort. 

Effort to look at both sides.

Effort to go outside of our own comfortable world views.

Effort to not just go with our own 'group.'

Effort to see that there is more than one side to the story.

Effort to not justify actions, or demonize others just because of the group they belong to. 

Effort to not justify the violence. 

Effort to listen... Really listen... 

Effort to stave off cultural relativity. 

There are several issues to be worked out, it's not that easy...

The division is wide and in many ways unclear...

It's saddens me if people justify the death of George Floyd... 

But it also saddens me to see him lifted up like he was a model citizen. Maybe you think that's not the point... Maybe they're right. I agree, that he did not deserve to die during the arrest. He deserved to be dealt with with as much care and dignity as any other citizen while the officer appropriately handled the interaction. But, painting him out to be something that he wasn't' isn't going to help in the long run either. And the same goes with the Derek Chauvin the arresting officer.

It's saddens me to hear people who are justifying the riots and overlook the killing of other innocent people in the wake of their 'cause.'

Floyd's death, the protests and the violence point to larger issues in our society that run far deeper and wider than even the situation with law enforcement response and community involvement.

I'm hearing large brush stroke rationalizations on both ends. People forcing others to choose their 'side' with words like... 

'If you don't decide, you're not on my side.'

Wishy / Washy?! Pffft... Hardly!

It's not about being wishy / washy.

It's just that real life is messier than a simple label. 

Yes, there are trends and yes, sometimes you do have to choose. Am I going to turn right or left? Do I vote for this candidate or that one? Sometimes you do have to make an either/or decision...

But, I don't have to love and defend everything this one side does, just because it's "My" side. 

Conversely I don't have to hate and demonize everything that the 'other side' does, just because it isn't 'my side.'

I can differentiate and give credit where credit's due, while at the same time put my foot down on those things I don't think are right or don't agree with, even when it's 'my own' who did it. 

Not only can we do this...

We MUST do this, if we are going to move past our desperate times. 

Identity?! Really!? Again?
How can this possibly be about our Identity Again!?

Who Are You Going to Be?

Are you going to be that thug who uses your position and authority to hurt and even kill unnecessarily because of prejudice, a power trip, or you just don't give a sh*t? 

Are you going to be the one who stands by and watches as something happens? Even if the person doing it is supposed to be on your 'side?'

Authority and group identity play a strong roll in all of this.

Are you going to be that thug, doing criminal things, rioting, looting, hurting, even killing in the name of your 'cause'?

Whichever way you lean; whatever affiliation you subscribe to... are you going to stand by watching 'your' side do thug like things and not call them out on it?

Are you going to be someone who stands up for the right thing regardless of the group you identify with?

Are you going to help those on your 'team' rise to the level that they are capable of, not sink to the level that we will regret or have to tell stories why it was justified.

You have to have the courage and clarity to step in... To step up. 

The more we can see we are all on the same team the easier we can work though issues... Even the big ones.

As Dr. Robert Humphrey said...


Not just people in my 'group'... whichever 'group' that may be.

What Are You Going to See?

Can you show respect to that human being as you appropriately deal with their behavior?

What's 'appropriate'? 

It points to Most Good / Least Harm.

How can you do the most good, least harm in the situation?

No, it doesn't mean no harm...

Sometimes we do need to harm to protect. But this should be done in relation to what is needed using the least amount of force necessary to deal with the situation. 

Unfortunately, the more extreme the situation, the more extreme measures may be necessary.

Those come with a cost most people don't like and some don't even understand!

You need clarity, courage and skills.

It's harder to extend this to folks who we see as different than us. To people we don't like or respect what they do or how they believe.


Are you equipped to appropriately deal with that behavior (if you must) while not losing sight of their humanity?

Yea but...


Not, yea but...

I know, it's not easy, especially when things get heated and potentially violent! Protecting Life (even your own) gets pretty muddy in the face of real life. 

One Tribe

Yes, we all belong to smaller groups too, but we are all One Tribe!

So, you may be in a position to remind one of your 'small' group members of that! 

You may find yourself in a position to stop someone from doing something stupid that will have repercussions you can't even fathom...

You also may find yourself in a position to help all of us come together and rise above it!

Do you have what it takes to step up to that challenge?

Can you help others to see that we are all on the same side?

The main group we're all in is being human... We're people.

Yes, we come in many flavors, colors, shapes and sizes... But we are more alike than we are different.

If we can't get along when times are good, how are we going to do it when the challenges come?

Well, we're going to find out!

Keep going,



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