No matter your political ideology, you likely believe that a human being’s life is their own, and does not belong to anyone else. But somehow in America right now, a debate about the value of life is causing us to descend into a bizarre and brutal tribalism.
It’s time for it to stop.
By turning the loss of a life into a statistic for the purpose of debating the value of groups of lives, we are missing the point that really matters. Each person lost was an individual who was loved by someone. A few made bad decisions, but most were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
American politics should not serve as a brutal real-life episode of Survivor, with the strongest tribe claiming the spoils of electoral victory over the bodies of their adversaries. This is not a reality television show with 315 million cast members. This is the greatest nation on Earth.
Our debate right now should be about strengthening inner city communities, growing hope and opportunity for populations of people that see little of either and better equipping local leaders to build trust and partnerships with the law enforcement community.
If I were king for a day, I’d tell protesters across this country that if they can get 500 people to work together to shut down traffic in a community, I expect them to bring those 500 people to shut down the flow of drugs and violence in that community as well.
I’d free local government officials and Chiefs of Police of all restraints to end the employment of the rare police officer who does not have his community’s best interests at heart, and I’d provide funding to reward officers who go above and beyond the call of duty in their community.
Instead of hollow promises for the bread crumbs of a minimum wage economy and a slightly better level of poverty on welfare programs, we would be working on higher paying jobs in the trades and entrepreneurship. The ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’, as Michael Gerson would call it, would be replaced with the honor and demands of high expectations.
I’d establish family mentoring programs for middle and upper-income families to mentor families in poverty and at risk and, yes, I’d give them a tax break if they stuck with the program.
I’d work for economic policies that would transform the poorest of minority communities into growth markets for businesses to invest – right now, many are viewed as if they are third world nations.
I’d pass real criminal justice reform, rebuild families, build trust in communities and empower local leaders to clean up the streets. We’d reunite thousands of families of non-violent offenders who have served unreasonable sentences, and we’d make room for the dangerous and violent offenders we often set free too easily.
We would value and respect every life – including the people of foreign lands, American personnel overseas and the millions of people living under brutal regimes around the world. War is not a game, or a tactic in some foreign policy charade.
It’s time for us all to stop acting like participants in a massive reality television show, and realize that this bizarre, brutal tribalism is costing one innocent life after another.
The next time tragedy strikes, before you take a side or jump to conclusions, will you do something for me?
Wait to hear the names of those who were lost. Spend a moment looking at a picture of them. Learn about their family. Think about how you would feel if they were your son or daughter, father or mother, or brother or sister.
If you look at their faces and learn their names, you’ll realize that if we all just worked together, we wouldn’t need these tribes, these statistics, these memes and arguments – we’d have one another, and ultimately we would have peace.