A gallery of reflections from a trip to Guilin China in May of 2019. Beautiful area, May is rainy season, so there were plenty of reflections, even on the walkways. It is on my list to go back at a different time of year. Alas.
A more philosophical reflection
Answer versus solution
I remember a conversation with my father-in-law where he, a PhD mechanical engineer, expounded on the difference between a solution and an answer. I believe the conversation came up with regard to some, rather esoteric, topic related to computers and their ability to solve problems, numerical integration maybe? it was an awfully long time ago. His point, which was totally correct, was that the computer can give you an answer, but not a solution.
The difference is that a solution, in mathematics, is something you can use to find an answer to an equation or class of equations, regardless of what the parameters are. An answer is specific to one set of parameters, and won’t necessarily work if the parameters change.
This came to mind today because the combination of rhetoric and events that were in the news last week have been swirling around in my head.
When you look for a solution you have to examine the shape of the problem and really understand it.
Current events versus solutions
The problem of racial injustice in the USA is one that needs a solution and not an answer. Part of the challenge is that people are right now in fight or flight mode. Lizard brain stuff, my son would call it. Not the best mode for finding a solution.
Personally, my fear isn’t about Black people having access to justice. My fear is of an out of control police force acting like thugs instead of law enforcement. We have seen way too many cases of this over the past few months.
My fear is also that we no longer have a justice system at all, for anyone. It has been overtaken by favoritism. Laws are not respected and enforcement is arbitrary. This is true from the local to the national level. Flagrant violations of laws by the RNC this week clearly demonstrate this. I believe those violations are fanning the flames of the unrest right now, and that they were specifically planned to do so.
Looking at the many, many incidents, of police shooting and killing Black people, the one thing they all have in common is abuse of lethal power by law enforcement. Even knowing that the nation is a tinder box and that eyes are on them they don’t change their behavior.
That is the root cause of the protests. Black people have been here all along, the laws haven’t changed, heck, the pledge of allegiance to the flag says “liberty and justice for all”. The cause of protests is the behavior of law enforcement. The escalation that happens is also often caused by police and gangs of thugs that they seem, all too often, to be linked with.
Kyle Rittenhouse was a gang member, not a noble vigilante, and he was breaking laws both by being armed and on the street that night. Far from protecting the citizens of their city from that thug the police appear to be complicit in the murders he performed. (Side note: Who pays them?)
I have a simple suggestion that could be a start: that police STOP SHOOTING BLACK PEOPLE (I would just say people, but that doesn’t seem to be an adequate instruction). The police are supposed to be law enforcement, not judges handing down a death penalty. Just arrest people and let the justice system do its job.
Too tame versus too radical
I can hear the roar of criticism already.
On one side saying that Black people are arrested way more than others. I understand, there is a lot of systemic racism. I am not saying that just not shooting Black people is enough to solve the total problem. It is what we call “necessary, but not sufficient” in mathematical proofs.
On the other side are “law and order” types. Here’s the thing: the supreme law of our land is the constitution.
The fourth amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.US Constitution
Being shot in the back doesn’t seem very secure in person to me, seven bullets seems both unreasonable and a significant violation.
The (in)famous Fifth Amendment (used by several members of the “first family”), in addition to not being compelled to witness against yourself, goes on “nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law….”
Another tenant of our laws is habeas corpus, mentioned in Article I, section 9 of the US Constitution, which is the right of a person detained to be brought before a judge or court. I am no lawyer, but it sure seems like when cops kill an unarmed guy for, as in George Floyd’s case, being accused of passing a counterfeit $20 this would apply, sure doesn’t seem like national security was under a threat.
I guess what I am trying to say is this: civilization needs all of us, including leaders and police tasked with “law enforcement”, to follow the laws of the land. If that isn’t the case then there is not, and cannot be, “law and order”.
When the current administration is repeatedly and flagrantly breaking the laws, thay basically says that “law and order” is a false narrative and doesn’t give one a lot of faith in the system.
When you start getting arbitrary, watch out. Didn’t Jesus say something about judgement? Something along the lines of “the measure you give will be the measure you get”? (he did: Matthew chapter 7 verse 2).
So, while I know that people will say I am being too simplistic, or that, somehow, “law and order” doesn’t really include law, I say:
It would be a start. And we would all be much safer if people who have a moral compass don’t have to go out to protest yet another shooting of a black person, creating opportunity for the gangs who take advantage of the protests (many of whom seem to have ties to the police, white supremacist groups and be egged on by the current administration).
Way, way, way safer than if the police (and out of control hulligans) continue to shoot crowds of people with chemical weapons and bullets. They DO NOT know who they are shooting. People out buying a gallon of milk are just as likely to be hit as anyone who broke a window.