One either side of the Atlantic different fires burn, but not without some familiarity or shared DNA.
In the UK, because the great and good are now fighting Dominic Cummings they have surrendered to COVID19.
There is no battle against the risks of schools and businesses re-opening prematurely. There are no positions being prepared against the incoming economic tsunami. The trenches are set to be over-run by the second peak of the pandemic.
All of these complex dangers have been reduced to the hatred of a single human face for the sake of convenience.
The white flag has been raised but the foe is still advancing. And nobody is watching.
This is how established structures maintain themselves, by prompting populations to act against their interests through the time-gathered knowledge of how to provoke and inspire misdirected emotion.
Across the pond, in terms of how sparks becomes flames, there are many parallels with how the 2011 riots spilled beyond London – only with the compounding factors of American social inequality and other risks including gun ownership and a mobile supremacy movement.
Protest is fully justified, George Floyd was clearly murdered. But the people mustn’t meet this latest horror with their own violence.
Responding that way hands the power in the argument back to the racists and the failed authorities which lit the fire and doused it in petrol in the first place.
Responding that way destroys communities as they need to mourn and make change together.
This is how established structures maintain themselves, by prompting populations to act against their interests, remember.
So be above them now in order to rise above them for good.
We are with you, Minneapolis. Across the world.
As a former cop – former because I stood up for something decent – I can say that many wearing the uniforms of today are with you too. They don’t want murderers tainting their badge and all it represents. And while they stand with you, they are faced with the dual need to maintain public order as a legal duty – an obligation which complicates their role in society because it can’t see sides due to its nature. They have to hold a line between violence and peace, even where the violence has fundamental justification behind it.
This causes and has always caused understandable confusion and negative perception. A structural conflict.
You know – WE all know – the face of the true enemy.
It is racism. It is social inequality. Bad selection processes and failures in authority structures.
Yet, in escalating protests, with both sides behind masks – whether public order helmets or face scarves – people become dehumanised embodiments of these larger problems.
Which is how the structures stay broken.
Converse to the reduction of Britain’s surrender to a single human face, in America the growing absence of the same exacerbates the problem because the face becomes that of ANY police officer or ANY person of colour.
Faces have the meaning we attribute to them, and sometimes they need to be held up as a purpose, a memorial, in order to steady the course of change. To keep our causes human. Other times we must be wary of attributing things to them incorrectly and transferring problems to them for the sake of ease or emotional reaction. Misdirecting blame from societal problems to single figures of hatred.
You are all better than the system.
This is your time to be better together, side by side.
To make things better, side by side.
The soul of Minneapolis might be on fire, but from that can come a Phoenix. From the ashes of a city, only recriminations will rise.
Britain may be burning around us, but we aren’t yet searching for an arsonist. We still need to get out of the house.