RIOTS – Ferguson & Baltimore: band-aides don’t fix broken bones

It isn’t just the riots, the burning, the complete lack of empathy, the destruction, the hate, the violence, its the sense that this is what will bring justice.

We treat animal abuse with more sanctity.

It is meeting abuse with abuse. Killing without mercy. It is the frenzy of igniting chaos by triggering the one emotion that is most difficult to contain – hatred.

The media is claiming a link between the igniter’s in Ferguson and Baltimore, suggesting that professional protesters or anarchists are helping to elevate the frenzy. In the Ukraine, there were reports of professional anarchists. In Hong Kong, professional protesters helped strategize. Stories abound of US, French, British, Spanish, Italian, Canadian and Australian citizens fighting alongside Al Qaeda or ISIS. Are the protests really that much different? The US government admittedly states that they use special ops to instigate regime change. Isn’t that somewhat similar?

Inserting anyone into the fray of a war, riot, protest, or civil conflict for the purpose of directing the movements and actions toward a specific linear point – is now a common tactic militarily and civilly.

When the only sympathetic response our president can offer urges people to do some ‘soul searching’, what message is being parlayed?  Does it make anyone feel better?  What accomplishment is gained from destruction?

To look at the videos one might think they are viewing the aftermath of the bombing in Yemen or Syria. Burning cars, rubble, broken glass, shattered lives, innocent lives, vengeance is the root and chaos is the claim. The cause is lost in the fires, in the shattered lives that were once your friends and neighbors, where you bought a cup of coffee or a hairpiece or a hotdog.

How many businesses were destroyed in Ferguson? Twenty one businesses suffered destruction, many more were burglarized, and 12 cars in an auto lot were torched. It was indiscriminate, the victims had even tried to help the protesters but found themselves thus victimized. Unleashed wrath for unleashed vengeance. The voices decry that “property does not stand up to the loss of a life”. And while that may sound righteous, this property didn’t just have ‘value’, it sustained many lives that now have been destroyed.  There is a consequence, but it is not directed.  It is like hitting your child because you are mad at your employer.  A disconnected brain reaction.

After the siege at Ferguson, why didn’t the Baltimore mayor protect and defend? Why did she hesitate knowing the height at which the issue has been accelerating nationwide? Was she scared that inserting police and National Guards would create a greater spread of the hostility? The mayor led a relatively sheltered life growing up as the daughter of a surgeon and receiving her juris doctorate degree. As mayor, her pet project was to rejuvenate Baltimore by incentivizing the promotion of increased home buyers and urban redevelopment.  I think her case just got quashed.

As usual, the root, the cause of the problems is not being addressed, only the symptoms. Putting band-aides on symptoms has little effect. It’s like giving a person with a broken leg a few Advil and sending them home. The leg is still broken!

The problem stems from a multitude of damaged roots , roots underfed, under fertilized, root rot, and a fear of saying out loud what is fact. Crowds can be manipulated to act in an intense way when that might not be their normal behavior. Like coyotes feeding on a prey, they get caught up in the frenzy of adrenaline tearing their prey apart.  Anarchy feeds rebellion and the desire to hurt for pleasure in a world paralyzed by the need to control.

Boredom can be a manipulated.

A sense of entitlement – can be manipulated.

A sense of power spills over.

And then, like the feed, it is over. Circumstances haven’t changed for the better, and in actuality, probably for the worse. If one were to have interviewed a number of the rioters and asked them why they were there, the answers would most likely parallel the ones given at the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Some would have no clue.

Riots have been a mainstay of our world for thousands of years; after chariot games, riots were commonplace, the Nika riot in 532 AD erupted resulting in the destruction of over half the city and the death of tens of thousands of citizens. The Philadelphia Election Riot between the Anglicans and the Quakers over election fraud resulted in paralytic destruction. The Swing Riots in England when impoverished agricultural workers rose up against their employers left a slew of destruction in their wake. It was thought then that ‘agitators’ were brought in from France. There are over 63 individual riots that took place in the 1800’s. And over 50 riots during the 1960’s! This is NOT a new phenomena.

Short term memory loss. How quickly we forget. What did they accomplish?

Thousands of lost lives. Millions in property damage. A depression of property values in cities with large African American contingents. Loss of tax revenue for schools. Loss of tax revenue from property. A spiraling decay that purged cities and plunged them further into an abyss of poverty. As a result, the war on poverty was launched. Did it work?  At the same time entitlements rose significantly. Problem: do you give a person a fish, or teach them how to fish. We gave them fish.

In 1968 the poverty rate was 12.8%. In 2014, the poverty rate was 14.3%, down from 15% according to the Census Bureau. American Indians dominate the largest percentage of those living in poverty at representing 27% of the 14.3%.  And the flat line rate has been relatively unyielding for nearly fifty years.  You don’t eradicate poverty with handouts, people need and want a sense of worth, an ego, a life, a dream come true, a chance, an education, the ability to create and make – on their own.

And despite all the hoopdela, all the entitlements, all the promises, little has changed in the numbers, only the rhetorical cause. Blame is the cause. But no one can get out of poverty without trying. Waiting around for someone to give you more band-aides isn’t changing the direction of your life.  It doesn’t water the roots or mend the broken leg.   Most initiatives come in the form of charitable programs giving youth a chance, not from government entitlements. So what happened to tech centers, training centers, that were going to take us to the next level in US poverty eradication? There are a spattering of centers, but their numbers are sparse, and their cause, such as telephones for the homeless, really did little to shift away from the problem. Yet these same tech centers would seem to abound in Africa and India. What about here guys? Have you been to Alabama lately, or West Virginia?

The band-aide has been torn away and the wound exposed. So, do you hand them two Advil and a glass of water, or do you fix the dang leg?

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