Let me preface this with a confession which, as a guy who rights about movies should really get me fed to a Rodent Of Unusual Size. Up until a couple of hours before writing this, I had never seen The Princess Bride. I mean, I knew of it, I knew all the quotes, I knew about the special place it held in the pop culture collective unconscious, but I’d never actually sat down and watched it.
The last time I went to see my mother-in-law she was stressed. When I walked into the house, she didn’t look up from the mountain of paperwork which lay around her. She flicked between different bits of paper, muttering under her breath, completely consumed with the task at hand. When she did finally look up, it was not to say hello to me or give her grandchildren cuddles, she looked to her husband and said “How far can Matthew walk?”
Before Christmas when I hopped on to the laptop and logged on to my social media sites, my various news feeds were filled with the news from Ferguson. First of all, I will admit, being in Northern Ireland, I don’t really keep up to date with American news like this. I knew a little bit about it, a teenager was shot by a cop. That was it. It wasn’t until the verdict was announced and the riots started that I became fully aware of the situation, or as informed as you can be with digging through Facebook, Twitter and the various news sites. All the information which I had access to had been regurgitated repeatedly, the information was in the form of twisted opinion and hearsay of what happened, there was very little in the way of facts. But a few things became to light. An 18 year old boy who was unarmed was shot 6 times by a police officer and his dead body was left in the street for hours. That is beyond scary.
First of all, everyone online had an opinion, an ill informed opinion. My news feeds were filled with anger and rage despite people not having the full facts of what happened. We will never know exactly what happened and we will never have all the facts. Was there any footage of the incident? Security cameras or mobile phone footage? Not that I’ve seen, so we will never know exactly what happened. To assume what happened was based on race or someones prejudice of another human is a dangerous game to play.
Second, the fact that race is even part of the conversation is scary. People, we live in the 21st century. Race, religion, gender, or sexual preference should not be an issue to society any more. Personally I couldn’t care if you are a gay purple man with boobs, if you are nice to me then I’ll be nice to you. I never judge a person in the first instance, I’ll get to know before I decide if you are an asshole or not. If these things are still issues in this day and age, then something needs to be done about it. And screaming about it on the internet is not helping matters. If this offends you then you need to educate yourself and those around you rather than getting all hot and bothered on the otherside of your computer screen.
I’m no expert on this, not by a long shot but I do know this, if you can’t trust your police force then it needs to be changed. Police and civilians need to have the protection of the law. Police should wear body cameras so that things like this can’t happen. Video evidence is the only answer if a white cop has race issues and hides behind his badge and gun to dish out his own version of justice. And guns are never the answer. There are so many other ways, non-lethal ways for crowd control and to take a suspect into custody, guns are not necessary anymore. But tonight, just think of Michael Brown and hope that something positive can come of this. Lets challenge that race card, ask more from the police, and hope that some day news like this will be a distance memory but the victims are never forgotten.
As the Holiday season has been and gone now, most people will begin to forget the messages of world peace and love, no matter what their religion may be. Most religions are on same wavelength as each other when it comes to peace and love (believe it or not) but don’t want to band together because of their differences. I think Homer Simpson said it best with his “Eat chicken” idea in the Simpsons when trying to unite world religions. It’s a simple idea to allow everyone to join together but no-one does it. But why not? In todays world we need something, a common ground to unite everyone in the face of those who would have us tear each other apart. If you think I’m being over-dramatic then just think about the world we live in. In living memory we have seen some the most horrible terrorist attacks ever inflicted. There was 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and just before Christmas we saw an extremist take people hostage in a cafe in Australia, and a school in Pakistan attacked resulting in the deaths of nearly 150 people. Most of those people were children. This is not War, this is slaughter.
This scares me. Of course it does. But I’m not scared for myself, I’m scared for my children. What if my daughter is out for the afternoon with her friends and a terrorist starts shooting the place up, or sets off a bomb. All the people who have died because of terrorist activity were going about their day when they were unfairly ambushed and attacked by some nut-job trying to prove a point. These people had no idea that they were about to be attacked. They felt safe and comfortable doing whatever it was they were doing when tragedy occurred. That is not War, that is murder.
United we stand, divided we fall. But what is there that can unite us? What symbol can we use that will show, despite everyones religious differences, that we are united in a quest for peace? For me, my mind jumped to the 1960’s peace symbol. The time when people protested against the Government and love was the answer to everything. Make love, not war was the hippie answer. And was it such a bad one? I could go all science on you here but I won’t. Let’s just say there are so many studies into human behaviour that prove how positive encouragement can affect a human that it would be stupid of us to ignore them.
So what am I asking here? Let’s give peace a chance. Smile more. Hug everyone. Wear a peace symbol, not because it’s cool, but because you want peace.