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Our View: A change is gonna come

The Union Editorial Board

We’d considered not writing an editorial about the death of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests and riots that have stemmed from it.

Isn’t enough already being said, through words and deeds? How does opining on this issue, despite its prominent placement in the news, in any way help this community or affect how its residents feel or say or act?

The answer is simple: Because silence equals complicity. Because a lack of an opinion is, in fact, an opinion, just one unstated.

Floyd’s death, and its aftermath, is too important to keep lips sealed. It requires each of us to take a stand and speak hard truths.

Despite a framing some people would use, this is not — literally or figuratively — black and white. Like most things in this world, it’s a nuanced issue that can’t be reduced to simple tweets or memes. They’re intellectually dishonest and lazy.

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Dealing with police brutality, and violent rioting, as a society requires more than an either/or mindset. Otherwise you’re drawing dividing lines before the first discussion ever occurs.

And open, honest discussion is what this country needs right now.

We must start this discussion with a foundation we can all agree on.

First, all life has intrinsic value, but it’s black lives that are in danger and the reason we’re talking about this, and we must acknowledge the value of those lives, pointedly. Black lives matter.

Second, property rights must be honored. There is never a reason to damage someone’s property.

Now, for argument’s sake, imagine you don’t agree with the second point. You’d have good reason to disagree. For generations people have been telling you the proper way to protest. Don’t sit at the Walgreens counter, don’t sit at the front of the bus, don’t go the same schools as white kids, don’t burn the American flag.

And certainly don’t kneel during the National Anthem. It’s just not appropriate. There’s a better way to protest.

Stay in this mindset for one moment longer. Think about this: what’s the better way to protest? What’s going to make real change happen, and stop a cycle of violence that’s existed for centuries? What’s going to make the authorities and politicians really listen to you, not just provide empty promises?

What have you got to lose when they fail you?

But that’s just nonsense, isn’t it? People are violating the law, damaging property, and need to be blindly punished. It’s a system that’s worked well before, right?

Right?

There’s a phrase that’s echoed throughout the nation for years. To paraphrase, I don’t condone what you’re doing, but I understand it.

People who break the law and are caught should be punished. You don’t destroy someone’s property and escape justice, not if the authorities can identify and charge you. Not if it’s proven in court.

Looters should be prosecuted, as should those who damage property. Period. But don’t let those acts take away from the message peaceful protesters are spreading, and the demands they want.

If you violate the law in order to get change, accept the consequences that come with it.

There is a distinct, strong difference between those who want societal change and an end to police brutality, and those who want to destroy. Do not condone the destruction, but understand its roots.

Refuse the ease of silence, and instead take the path of uncomfortable action. You don’t necessarily have to wave signs or attend rallies. Your everyday words and deeds, the organizations you donate to, the posts you make on Facebook — the tiniest of actions can cause ripples, like a small stone tossed into a pond.

Plenty of people won’t agree with this. That’s OK. It doesn’t really matter. An avalanche crashing down, forcing change with each passing moment, doesn’t much care for their opinions either.

That’s what’s happening now — a seismic shift in our country and culture.

Make no mistake: A change is gonna come.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.


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