July 09, 2016

Trust, Innocence, and Bias

Back when I was reporting on elections within Islas, a group of students who gathered online and, on rare occasions, in person, I wrote outrageous stories documenting the votes as they came in, the candidates and the differences between their vote counts, and typically inserted a claim of a complete lack of bias somewhere along the way.

The mainstream media makes no such overt claim, and my contention is that they know they're biased and that they couldn't reasonably claim otherwise and expect people to believe them.

Maybe the day is coming when they will and can make that claim and be believed.

But I'm talking about today.

As of today, there have been two recent, high-profile incidents wherein a black man was killed by a police officer.

Now, the guilt of the officers is not mine to judge; ultimately, their guilt may not even be accurately determined by investigation and the minds of attorneys and judges.

What I'm here to write about, and what I believe is a despicable and manipulative evil, is the bias the media shows concerning the character of the victims in these incidents.

From heavy.com: "Philando Castile: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know"

1. He Was a Beloved School Cafeteria Worker Who Snuck Extra Graham Crackers to Children 
2. He Was a Straight-A Student in High School & Had Only a Minor Criminal Record 
3. He Frequently Posted About Social Justice Causes, & His Sister Posted About Alton Sterling Just Hours Before Castile’s Death 
4. Castile Had a Concealed Carry Permit, According to His Girlfriend, & Informed the Officer That He Was Armed 
5. Protests Erupted in the Wake of the Shooting, & the Governor Called for a Federal Investigation
So Castile was an innocent, unassuming, and ordinary individual with a "minor" criminal record? (other sites are spreading modified lists which claim he had "no criminal record,")

And allegedly he was pulled over and shot exclusively because of the color of his skin?

The fact is, Castile had been pulled over, charged, convicted, and sentenced for dozens of traffic offenses.

In addition, according to police radios, Castile was a suspect in an armed robbery no more than one day prior to his death.

In a recording submitted by a "KARE11 viewer" which seems to contain the officers' transmissions during the incident, one of the officers stated on the radio that he thought Castile matched the description of one of the perpetrators of an armed robbery the previous day.

If one were to watch any one story on the major news stations on the subject, one might believe that both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were law-abiding, normal, ordinary, average citizens like you and I. You might believe, following such a report, that these men were, indeed, individually targeted exclusively because of their race.

In both cases, this is at best misleading, and more likely a bald-faced lie which slowly but surely erodes the trust between citizens (particularly black Americans) and police officers.

I cannot emphasize enough how much this troubles me. I believe it to be a true evil to report as truth that Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were upstanding, good-natured, ordinary people.

The fact is that neither of them were like you or I. Most of my readers are most likely not sex offenders, and most of my readers have most likely never robbed a convenience store at gunpoint. Most of my readers haven't brandished an illegal gun in a parking lot and said, "I told you to leave me alone," when a homeless person persists in asking for money.

What's my point? My point is definitely not that Castile or Sterling deserved to die. The fact that they were criminals, or had committed crimes in the past, has no bearing on whether a police officer should shoot them during a traffic stop or even an arrest.

My point is that the media's obsessive empathy with the victims of these horrific tragedies turns a blind eye to the fact that many of these victims aren't innocent and law-abiding citizens. Certainly before the incidents they were criminal in their actions, and in both cases it seems they were actively disobeying the law; Castile a suspect in an armed robbery, Sterling illegally carrying a firearm.

This speaks nothing to the immeasurable importance of being calm, collected, and cooperative with police officers during any and all encounters with them. I believe neither Sterling nor Castile were any of these things, as in both cases they had reason at the very least to be defensive and unhelpful, and at worst, to fear the just eye of the law.

I must reiterate what I said before, because I believe it is simply a matter of life and death, in particular to black Americans.

If the mainstream media continues to profess the victims of these incidents as not only ordinary, kind people, but also truly innocent of any and all wrongdoing, the trust between black people and cops will disintegrate and eventually be utterly lost.

A deficit of trust between cops and citizens is immeasurably perilous. As this trust erodes, our servant protectors are rendered impotent.


June 28, 2016

The Humility of Patience

Something occurred to me, as I was laying in bed, thinking about my choices and options going forward in the coming days and weeks.

Of late, a few things are on my mind with particular weight, not the least of which is this girl I know. She and I have a number of interests and passions in common, and my feelings and desire tell me to immediately act on them. They tell me, "What if tomorrow she met someone else?"

I guess this is fear. I'm afraid that she'll find someone to love her, and I'll "miss out."

What a fool am I.

The problem with this attitude is that, by it, I make the assumption that there's no better man for her in this world than myself. Either that, or, when all is said and done, I'm not the best man for her, and I actually don't care what's best for her.

To put it simply, that complete lack of humility, in my view, makes the difference between love and hate. If love is the giving of oneself for the benefit of another, and hate the giving of another for the benefit of oneself, then I do, indeed, hate her by presuming to be the best person to know her and love her.

And this says nothing of how insulting it is to assume she'd choose someone unfit, unkind, or unloving, which, incidentally, is exactly what I become if I pridefully presume to be the best for her.

That is, through my lack of humility, I make myself less able (also less worthy) to love her truly.

I've lived my life patient, by my estimation. Sure, I'm not always patient, sometimes I feel impatience, and I certainly act on it from time to time. But when things matter, when I probably should be pushing and driving both myself and others to be better, I usually wait and prefer hope instead of action.

Thus, it grates on my very soul to turn again to patience as the best course of action, but I think in this case it may be best. If for impatience' sake I would either think less of her, or more of myself, then I'd say I've sabotaged the endeavor from the outset.

Perhaps I should act today, but I know with absolute certainty I should never act motivated by the fear that she would "find someone better".

If anything, I should pray to God she finds someone Godlier than I. Quickly.


June 16, 2016

Love, feelings, and all that stuff

So, a few years back, I met this girl who is incredibly kind, loves people, is intelligent and funny, and to top it all off, is a sort of classically gorgeous which is usually lost under all manner of superficial facades or deep character flaws these days.

I obsessed and I pined and, to the best of my ability, spent my time being around her, talking to her, engaging with her, learning more about her, but, until about two years later, never overtly insinuating or indicating that I had any interest in her.

There's a part of me which still contends that this is the best way to approach things. A guy and a girl should know each other reasonably well before they start dating, right? Right?

I'm not so sure anymore.

Part of my hesitance to accept that approach is that I have little or no success engaging with people in group settings. I'm not a very talkative guy, and I know it. I further know that it's not an issue. There are situations where I need to talk or I should talk, and I'm willing and able to do so. However, to engage in highly social settings with people I barely know with the ulterior motive of romance?

About that I have serious reservations. I don't easily engage and commit to people without similar or greater commitment on their part. I guess this is probably part of the problem, but being an introvert, I find it much more easy to engage with a single person and avoid, ignore, or block out the rest of the world.

That's kind of how I ended up asking out this same girl; it was just after church, with dozens of friends, acquaintances, fellow church goers, and a few family members nearby. People were conversing energetically as they always do. I noticed she had some buffer between her and surrounding people, so I saw my opportunity, walked up to her, and asked her out on a date in plain English with a normal tone of voice.

I remember that she told me she admired my boldness, which I guess I appreciate. To me, it felt marginally safe; in my mind, the rest of the room had sort of ceased to exist for a time. It wasn't that much of a distance between us and everyone else; perhaps some of them realized even what was happening.

She said no. It's been a year or two since then, and I haven't completely stopped feeling like I did.

But the fact is, if my only standard is that of being rejected by one girl; that is, that's the highest, the furthest I've gotten when it comes to advancing my affection into reality as word and action...then I have as much gotten over her as I will until the moment I ask someone else out.

My feelings are equally strong for girls I've met since then. Does this mean that I've forgotten her character and beauty, and have moved on? Why should I still feel, then? Why aren't I still numb? Well, why shouldn't I feel? I didn't commit to her in any way, shape, or form, except by my own design and in my own mind. Yes, the feelings still remain; I still wish, wonder, and hope with the determination of a fool and utter inaction to match.

But, why should I act? Why should I care? She said no. I believe that to second-guess her choice or motives would be to consider her either a flighty and fickle human (like myself), or a liar. I choose to believe she is neither.

"But," quoth the self-same fool, "I like her so much!"

So what? If you love her, (that is, if you functionally care more about her than you do about yourself) it doesn't matter how you feel, you will still do what's best for her, regardless of the consequences to you or your feelings.

Get over it. Forget her. Move on.

"How can you be so heartless," the fool whimpers.

There is no heart in feeling. The heart chooses another's peace, happiness, and well-being over their own...or it chooses to serve itself and its own desires. The heart is what chooses to suffocate mere feelings and keep walking. Heart is what makes the world work instead of merely wishing it did.

A principle I've adopted as my own (from where, I can't exactly remember) is that one's emotions should either match one's actions in equal measure, or be abandoned in favor of emotions which do drive you to love; to love truly; to place your own desires and well-being second to someone else's.

Do your feelings drive you to love her? Then do so.
Do your feelings drive you to hate her? Cast them far from you.