I watched the evening news with clips and recaps from Baltimore and flinched.
Fires and riots and looting.
We are in trouble, I thought. Why would we do this. Oh, I’d heard the back story of how our police force had done things that had led to the death of one of our citizens. A portion of our fellow folks down there took exception and protested peacefully. Another portion of our people took advantage of that premise and acted like evil, ugly thugs.
We are in trouble, I thought again, worrying about a city I have come to love because of the years I spent as a student down the road at the University of Maryland and some years thereafter working at the Prince George’s Journal in suburban Maryland, needing friends, making friends, keeping friends.
Clips and news from today took a different tone.
Big portions of our fellow citizens were out in their neighborhoods cleaning up that big mess. Interviews heard them talking of how they planned to reclaim their streets and stores and corners, how they were teaching their children right by taking them to this action with brooms, brushes, dustpans.
We are bouncing back quickly, I thought. We have quite a resilient spirit.
Then, reporting live from the Baltimore streets, NBC anchor Lester Holt and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd added more texture, with the Baltimore mayor and her handle on actions, with retrospectives about Ferguson trouble past in Missouri, with President Obama answering a question about Baltimore while he was sharing an important news conference in Japan by speaking for 14 minutes about his thoughts for our cities and people.
There’s a whole lot of hating and blaming and fearing going on, too, still.
We’re not going to figure it out and solve it because of Baltimore’s calamity. But I surely hope we get a better handle on our emotions, policies and actions before another city breaks out in flames and looting by our fellow citizens.
Here’s the source for the fire photo.
Here’s the source for the clean-up photograph.
If you notice, I purposefully did not use the words they or we above. I think the us vs. them thinking — race, social class, job status, political party — is part of the problem and thus far has not been part of the solution. Idealistic, sure. Simplistic, probably. Do I get angry about our direction and leadership and opportunities? Yes, I do, heading toward 60, piecing together freelance opportunities since being laid off from a job I held for just short of 30 years and hoping that Social Security is still around when I’m old enough to start drawing on what I’ve spent all those years putting into the system. But hope is what I have for us, my friends.
What have these past two days in Baltimore left you feeling? Are you more positive or more negative about what will happen in America in the next several years? Do you have a plan to offer, and if so, what is it?