Lungs on Fire

Here come the drums

I. Am. Enraged. Raw.

I try not to watch the news, but inevitably get caught up and it’s brutal on the psyche. There’s so much appropriately righteous anger and so many are breathing fire — frustrated rage, a bloody trail of history, atrocities never punished or rectified or even acknowledged, and yet another insult, another injustice, while we reel from the other.

Peaceful protests. Powerful and peaceful. But they’re easy to ride out with no subsequent change unless something visually and narratively spectacular changes the course of our society.

I don’t like the looting and arson and property damage. I really don’t want any more loss of life. I want it to stop. (We’re in the midst of a pandemic, man.)

But property can be cleaned up, rebuilt, even remodeled.

George Floyd is dead.

Begging for his life. People who witnessed Floyd’s murder were begging the police officers for Floyd’s life. And officers responded with snark, with attitude, while citizens tried to de-escalate the situation.

Of those four officers, which ones were the good cops? Which part of being an accessory to murder counts as protecting and serving. If their system protects them, which parts of the system are good? If their system makes it hard for good cops to speak to truth or stop a murder, which parts of that system are good? Which parts should be excised.

Now we have cameras so it happens in front of our eyes. Over and over.

And the script plays out. The police are called in to investigate themselves. Prosecutors, who are colleagues, decide what charges to press. Coroners, who are colleagues, write the reports so they’re favorable to the officers involved.

Body cameras are mysteriously not activated, or they’re broken, or knocked aside, or the footage is lost.

Hours or days pass before any real investigation or charges. If there are any substances involved, there won’t be any in their systems by the time tests are taken.

The victim’s imperfect history trickles out in the media. The right-wing media crucifies the victim’s image and memory and the scripted talking points take hold and do what they’re intended to do.

Overnight the story becomes, “Man, who probably deserved to die anyway, coincidentally suffers spontaneous deadly affliction while restrained (broken back/neck, asphyxiation, blunt force trauma, bullet to the back of the head) while in the vicinity of police.”

So you’ll hear a politician or a cop or random wingnut say something like, “If you’re talking, you can breathe.”

The implication being that Floyd (or Garner) just dropped dead, and the knee on the neck or the arm bar across the throat was entirely coincidental.

Which is like saying, “If you’re flailing your arms, splashing around, and going above and below the surface of the water, you’re not drowning.”

I am so done with these—

I don’t live in a social bubble. I have friends, acquaintances, and family across the political spectrum. When in conversation, discussion, or argument, I don’t believe in shutting people down.

When I discuss, debate, or argue, I’m trying to communicate. I’m not going to “convert” anyone, or change someone’s political beliefs. It’s more like — we’re looking at the same thing. This is what I see. What do you see? Can you see why I have this perspective?

I don’t want any businesses to be burned and/or looted. I definitely do not want anyone else to be killed or hurt as people lash out and get caught up in the mob mentality or embrace the anarchy.

I don’t want to see any cops killed or harmed. I don’t want to see any protestors hurt, or lose more eyes, or get shot. So maybe the protests triggered by Floyd’s murder should take a different tact.

We need peaceful protests with a phalanx of heavily armed protesters to escort them. A few dozen men and women with long rifles, a hundred or so rounds each, a sidearm, and body armor. A rocket launcher or two in the mix, and a .50 caliber sniper rifle. Plus a few hundred or thousand other protesters. Then they can occupy capitol buildings, or post up outside of precincts, or march to politicians’ or murder suspects’ homes. The White House.

Is that a more acceptable way to protest? I mean, is that the patriotic way to protest?

If being asked (and then told, because you didn’t listen) to wear a mask in a store to protect other customers and workers is tyranny worthy of locking and loading, then where the f—- are your principles if you aren’t outraged by Floyd’s excruciatingly slow, extrajudicial execution in broad daylight at the hands of the government? Crackdowns and curfews? Teargas and rubber bullets?

A throwback to vicious dogs. I guess firehoses and axe handles are next, as long as we’re rhyming history.

I wanted to write a presidential speech. The goal tonight was to write a speech like I would like a strong, competent leader to give. But I guess A has to come before Z so here we are.

Take care of yourselves out there. Stay safe. Don’t hurt nobody. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, so do what needs doing.

Pleae take time to breathe and take a break from the constant stressors, sensationalistic media, and each other’s strong emotions. Even if you feel guilty for not being outraged all the time, it’s not good for you or the people around you. There is a season and a time, but not all the time.

Be safe. Be healthy. Don’t be afraid to find something to be happy about, joyous about, or grateful for.

9 thoughts on “Lungs on Fire

  1. Hauntingly eloquent. I wish more people could understand the rage and anger caused by so much deafness to the pain.

  2. I can’t tell you how much I value you and this. Thought provoking, gut wrenching and most of all, things that need to be said. Love you Gary!

    1. Thank you, Sara. Love you back.

      We’re all coping and adjusting on the flu.

      Take care of you and yours and I hope to see you soon.

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