One month after a federal settlement awarded one million dollars in the Pasadena McDade shooting case, a video of an LAPD officer has been shown on a video kicking a Latino woman. The kicking occurred in a Van Nuys jail holding cell. His partner joined in the abusive force actions. In another case of excessive force, an African American woman was beaten by a Highway patrolman on the side of a highway.
Southern California cities pay out millions of dollars for actions of their police department for abuse of citizens. My office has collected millions of dollars for clients in excessive force cases, over the years. These cases are always sad because the police do the dirt, write the report, then deny they did anything wrong.
In the recent shooting down of a commercial airline, by what is believed to be Russian separatists with the help of President Vladimar Putin’s army, we have an example of an international drive-by shooting. And in the never ending war between Israel and Palestine, we see more governmental authorities using their power to kill people. Kill, kill, kill is what the world seems to have evolved into.
As if there weren’t enough guns in the world, the states of Texas and Florida now allow citizens to carry guns in public places. So it’s just a matter of time before we see a shooting of citizens without provocation by a gun toting citizen.
We’ve had church shooting by someone who doesn’t appreciate the federal laws saying it’s okay to have an abortion. School shootings have become common sport, from Columbine up to the latest shooting at Newtown, and yet the National Rifle Association says what we need is more guns. Really? The NRA needs to sell more guns, and there are many fools that buy them.
In the midst of all of this shooting, it seems that shooting by young blacks has taken a vacation. While it is true that drive-by shootings were daily sport in America, shootings by black gangs are reported to be down. When you can kill as easily as a drive-by shooting and without thinking what it does to the family of the deceased, lives are meaningless and love is lost. Most of us even flinch when somebody or an animal gets killed in front of our car, why not these shooters? Hopefully, the message will get around that if you kill somebody you are probably going to spend most of your life in prison.
In my life, I spent one night in jail (1968). I can’t even imagine spending a lifetime in prison for a moment of anger or rage that results in killing somebody. I think that people who get so angry that they want to kill others are shortsighted and just stupid. In my mind when you act on pure emotion without thinking about the consequences, you’re stupid. I note that stupidity is a common affliction of the young, acting without thinking of the consequences. They are shortsighted because they are supposedly making decisions for their lives but instead, they are letting someone else’s actions control them by killing or abusing them. And then what? They let someone have control of their lives by making them so mad that they did something that lands them in jail, or somehow locked up, even if it’s in their own world, mentally.
I think of Nelson Mandela as a person who never let himself be locked up. Even while he was imprisoned, he had enough self-control to seduce the guards during his twenty-seven years in prison. One way he controlled his emotions was by reading. Reading gave rise to thinking.
Mandela is known to have read a book by Marianne Williamson. In her book, “A Return to Love”, she raises a question and answers it: “What is your deepest fear?” A fear that shows itself in putting on airs about how great we are. Williamson answers the question by writing that, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
We watch as President Barack Obama resists the impulse to go to war and increase the killing of people, as Putin goes to war, killing people, and pretending he’s not by trying to hide it. It seems to me that the great ones are those who submit to the love in them, resist the fear, and empower the rest of us with their love.
The president surely makes manifest the love and glory of God as he stands tall on the world stage, leading without initiating more killing.