All we need is loveFatal shootings by and against police officers have been reported throughout the United States while street protests by the “Black Lives Matter” movement are gathering steam, refueling deep-seated racial conflicts between whites and African-Americans. Police and citizen clashes, which had been quiet since the nationwide outrage against the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, have turned more forceful.
There are already concerns about the making of a “Red Summer” like 1919, a racial conflict triggered by the killing of an African-American teenager in Lake Michigan after he violated the unofficial segregation of Chicago beaches. In the summer and autumn of that year, 23 blacks and 15 whites were killed in riots. This year, racial tensions have become muddled in the heated political divide between liberals and conservatives during presidential campaigning. U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his trip to Spain and returned home to plead reason and restraint from the divided nation.
The rise of conflict and unrest in the United States underscores how hugely and grossly violent and deadly social disgruntlements and divisions can get if left unattended and how fissures can widen through hurried actions without fundamental goals. The media and public opinion that had been against discriminative and stereotypical policing are now mixed. The white conservatives are now raising their voices that the police are merely doing their job. While admitting the killings and attacks are wrong, blacks blame police officers for provoking the violence and disparities in the criminal justice system. Heightened violence and racial conflict pose serious questions for the future of the United States and tests American society.
Legendary African-American singer Stevie Wonder, in a recent concert, told his audience to “choose love over hate, right over wrong, kindness over meanness, hope over no hope at all. It’s just that simple.” Positivity, compassion and justice would simplify all the troubles and conflicts in the world. All societies have their problems and causes for division. We all should pay heed to the singer’s wise words.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 12, Page 30