Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Words Don't Work

In recent years, I've felt my brain getting weaker.

My memory is shot for things like, "What actor was in that movie?" I rely on Google, the world's most powerful search engine, always available in the palm of my hand to feed information.

But after last night, it really hit home. I have all of these emotions and feelings and I have no way to express them. The city I love is in flames, divided, and I feel I can't elegantly describe anything.

Of course, both sides have their knee-jerk people who all of a sudden have degrees in Law, Sociology, and American history.

Some want to answer centuries of racism and oppression by shooting "all those hood rats." I'm not kidding, multiple people on my Facebook feed had this as the answer.

Some believe a prayer will bring peace. Unfortunately in this instance, we need to not only pray for peace, but we have to pray for a solution to the problem.

On the other side, I have friends that are happy and excited that police cruisers are being burned. They discuss times of police corruption ignoring that evidence is available for the public's eyes to see. Ignoring that if the Grand Jury was unable to get 9 members to vote for indictment, there was no way a unanimous decision would be found if the trial went further.

And this is where teenage Dan comes into conflict with adult Dan. When I was a kid, I was moody like most. But I had a sense of purpose. I didn't just hole up in my room listening to sad music. I was a man of action.

I knew things were bad in the country in 2003. This was when I first started paying attention to the 24 hour news cycle.

And when I was punk rock Dan, there were times I believed that a brick through a Starbucks window was the only way to get things changed. My philosophy was, "things are so bad, we have to burn it all down so we can truly start over."

And then last night I saw looting at mom and pop convenience stores. I saw Little Caesar franchises burning down. I saw people warming their hands over burning cars at a dealership.

And I couldn't figure out what this accomplished.

A major reason for the severe disparity between say West County and North County is the unemployment rate and pay scale.

As thousands of people left the older, northern, suburbs in the 80's and 90's for larger houses and greener grass out in western Missouri, jobs started moving too.

And thus, those that once were in the city and finally scraped up the money to move to the suburbs, to give their kids a better life, found a mostly abandoned neighborhood where there were no jobs or enough tax money for the school system to run properly.

The cycle continues of unemployment, people turning to crime to feed themselves, dropping out of school because why go when the school isn't teaching you anyway. I saw it many times over in Myrtle Beach. 17-year-old kids left behind by the world, relegated to a live fast, die young world.

So why would destroying businesses that remained in your community help?

I was excited when people were starting to address the segregation that exists in St. Louis. I imagined that some public figure would step up like Martin Luther King Jr. and lead successful peaceful protests. I imaged a scene, much like this one. And I was honored that it was going to happen in St. Louis.

I looked forward to marching with my neighbors and possibly fixing some of the underlying issues for all the hate.

Instead, my neighborhood burns. Silhouettes highlighted by the senseless fires of a few people that want to take advantage of a situation. People ruining their community and reputation for some hair products and snack food.

And the camera's love it. The "leaders" coming in from out of town on both sides of the debate, just here to stir the pot and see themselves on television again. We feed the 24 hour newscycle. Reddit is filled with constant postings about safety when visiting St. Louis. We will not recover from this for many years to come.

Then again, maybe we haven't earned the right to recover from this.