Memphis Tragedy. I am deeply saddened by the killing of Tyre Nichols by policemen in Memphis, Tennessee. I have neither the heart nor the stomach to watch the video.
I have read of his friendships in Tennessee and in California. He had friends from all walks of life. He held a good job with Fed Ex. By all appearances, he was a happy, good young man. The incident is heartbreaking.
In the Washinton Post an activist was disappointed in the small size of the protest. She remarked that the fact that the police officers were black had an effect. She made the comment: if the officers were white, we would be at war. I agree. In part I contribute the peaceful nature of the protests to his amazing mother who said Tyre would not want violence.
The Big Difference. The elephant in the room is the color of the police officers. Being Black removes the us-them, black vs white aspect from the situation. In doing so I believe we get a deeper understanding of the conflict. I believe it makes it possible to see a human problem that occurs in people of all colors.
The issue of concern to me is the reaction of a person or group of people in perceived authority when their authority is disrespected. I say perceived authority because often the person or group assumes authority even when it is not justified.
Too often the person who feels disrespected responds with violence. I believe in several of the prior police shooting situations, in addition to possible prejudice, the violent response to disrespect was an important part of the incidents.
To me this is a clear argument for a big part of what needs to occur in police hiring and training. Cultural sensitivity is important, but how a person will respond when disrespected is just as important, if not more important.
More than just the Police. The importance of the concept goes beyond police interactions.
Tyre Nichols death is a tragedy, but so is the wife who is beaten to death because she did not “respect” her husband. Tyre Nichols death is a tragedy, but so is the child who is shaken to death because he or she did not respect a parent. Tyre Nichols death is a tragedy, but so is the death of a child caught in drive-by gunfire caused by someone who shot at people he or she thought disrespected them.
Once again, I believe it is possible to have broader and deeper understanding of our human conflicts if we go beyond race and racism and dig deeper into human imperfections.
Africa. My memory for a great trip to southern Africa was triggered by some good news in another area of the world.
During our amazing visit to southern Africa, we were deeply disturbed to learn of rhino poaching. The misinformation that the horn of the rhino had aphrodisiac value made it worth as much as $150,000 on the Asian market. A lot of money for poor people. An entire village could be fed for a long time with that amount of money.
The tragedy was added to by the knowledge that the horn can grow back like a fingernail. There was no need to kill the rhino. However, poachers did not have the resources and needed to act quickly so they killed the animals and cut off the horn. The rhino herds were being depleted based on misinformation.
Misinformation is not good for people or animals.
Countries took big steps to protect the animals. In Botswana we were told— “We do not have a big problem with poachers. If we find them, we kill them.” However, in Zambia the government would give poachers a trial. They had more problems with poachers.
Zambia was having success renewing the population by providing 24-hour armed surveillance of their herd of white rhinos. The story with some great pictures can be seen in the following: https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/summer-2018/articles/walking-with-white-rhinos-in-zambia. We had the great joy of seeing this herd up close.
Jeny and I highly recommend the trip. We were safe, well fed, in great comfort, with marvelous people. We saw amazing animals and scenery first-hand rather than in a National Geographic Magazine. Great experience.
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