I’m just as obsessed with the Baltimore riots as anyone else – what happened to Freddy Gray was undoubtedly horrible and the officers who are responsible should be punished for their treatment of another human being. I see people posting on Facebook about the looting and the revolting in the wake of yet another tragedy. I’ve been reading about the peaceful protests and the citizens who are taking to the streets to clean up the mess after the looters. I will never understand the reasoning behind violence as a resolution – whether it be in Baltimore or across the world in the middle east, no one wins. Ever.
I recently had an interesting conversation with a firefighter from NYC. He’s been on the job for 34 years and works out of a fire house in one of the busiest parts of the city. We were talking about the stuff he sees on a daily basis and I was marveling at the fact that he is so immune to it. He said he has to be – he’s constantly in response mode, he never has time to process the situation completely until after it’s over. He did make a comment though that stuck with me, he said “you would not believe the blatant disregard for life out in the streets.” That statement struck me hard. As someone who is making it my job to help make others lives more fulfilling, how can there be others who are so willing to tear another human being down? How can people be unafraid of consequences? How are they able to look to violence as the answer? I know the argument is that a lot of the individuals I speak of don’t know any other way of life, they grew up impoverished, uneducated and neglected. And while that may be a reason, it’s also an excuse. I know people who had that kind of life when they started out and you know what, they still had the ability to make a choice. We all have the power within ourselves to make the right choice and do the right thing. Tearing a city apart is not the answer. It’s stupid. Having the victim’s family plead to their community to stop the violence is outrageous. They should have the time to mourn their loved one without added turmoil. Freddy Gray was someone’s son, friend, brother. His life, however complicated, was not irrelevant and it shouldn’t be treated as such. No one ever said life was easy, none of us will get out unscathed, we all have our crosses to bear, our tragedy to survive and we all have a choice on how we overcome it. Every life matters, make the right choice. Stop the violence.