Meditations on Social Upheavals Caused by Violent Suppression of Suffering People By
Josiah James Ingalls 06/02/2020 So nearly everyone is asking themselves, “Why is there so much looting and destruction with no proposals on the table to solve the issues our society is facing?” Unfortunately, in order to get both sides to come to the table to negotiate changing the status quo, we must upset the status quo a certain amount. Because if we do not, then those in power will not negotiate because they won’t feel they need to ─ and that means bad things will happen to even good people.
Negotiating in this kind of situation is kind of like a ceasefire in a war zone: when both sides feel neither can truly win, negotiations must happen. And until that point is reached, any negotiations will always be one-sided in favor of the current power structure, regardless if they are right or wrong. It's very easy to understand if you look through history at fundamental human behavior patterns, instead of the issues or politics of the day.
We long for some sort of negotiations or conversations over solid proposals for changing the system, but offering those proposals this early will fall on deaf ears when they land on the table of the current power structure. The time for negotiations or proposals will come; the question is, will it be this time with this particular outrage, or will this movement be squashed and lie dormant until it explodes again with more force than ever before?
I know some people are saying that it’s only going to be the same wash-rinse-repeat cycle, but if you look at the spread of outrage and protest each time an unarmed citizen is murdered by the police, our outrage grows along with the conviction that we must throw off the current status quo in order to fundamentally change the system. A population can only be suppressed so much and so long before mass resentment and anger erupt like lava from a newly awakened volcano.
History teaches us that power is given by those who already have it, and the powerful will always seek to take more power and will rarely give it up, unless they have little or no choice. I can think of a few fundamental changes that could help solve this issue long-term, but they would require the power structure to give up a tremendous amount of authority. These changes are:
1. Brutality of defenseless citizens by law enforcement officers should be made a federal crime.
2. Use of excessive force of any kind by law enforcement also should be made a federal crime.
3. Law officers should be legally forbidden to wear their uniforms if they are not on duty, and should have no more authority than a civilian when they are off duty and not in uniform.
4. Privatization of any part of the justice system should be outlawed. This includes private courts, private prisons, and private, armed security guards contracted by government entities.
5. The use of any form of military-grade weapons or equipment by local or state law enforcement agencies should be forbidden by federal law. If private citizens cannot legally possess and use certain types of weapons, then the same restrictions should apply to state and local law officers.
6. A law enforcement interaction with a citizen can only be legal if the officer has a running functional camera and for the recorded exchange to be a matter of public record.
These changes may not solve the problem entirely, but I think they’re a damn good start. History shows that any emerging reforms need to be championed by people who understand the legal system and how laws actually work, while also knowing how the political system functions (mostly behind closed doors and in contrast to what we may have learned in school). As change agents, we also must have a good understanding of how rules, policies, and laws are actually implemented, while being deeply familiar with the psychology of changing people’s minds.
If any reform does not strike at the fundamental underlying structure that causes our nation’s festering social problems, it is nothing more than a Band-Aid. And our superficially treated wounds will not heal, they will only get worse.
So what is the fundamental underlying structure in our society that needs to be changed? At its core, it is slavery. Yes, almost everyone will say slavery no longer exists, but in reality it has never really gone away. Yes, slavery was outlawed in 1865 and segregation was rolled back starting in 1954, but the core human behavior that created slavery and discrimination has never been dealt with or truly discussed openly.
That core human behavior is this: domination of the many by the few, who believe they have a divine right to control the lives of others, and expect everyone else to live by rules they had little or no say in creating. It’s been going on since the Egyptian kingdoms, and today the few living at the top of our social pyramid believe it’s acceptable to make others suffer to whatever degree is necessary to shape the world in ways that benefit their elite circle.
They offer us a one-sided social contract that demands our best years, most of our waking hours, a large part of our humanity, and even the lives of our children in exchange for endless wars, mountains of debt, unreliable jobs, inadequate wages, back-breaking taxes, broken-down schools, hyper-expensive health care, and a social safety net with so many holes it might as well not exist. And if such a social contract doesn’t amount to slavery, I don’t know what does!
Before you yell at me or combat me on this subject, ask yourself: When was the last time a government convened a National Summit to ask its new generation of adult citizens how they want their social contract to read? But no government I know of asks every generation if they want to rewrite the contract of society to fit their youthful beliefs and goals. Instead, society continues on the path that is it has always been on. That path has been virtually unchanged for millennia, where the ruling class rules and their subjects must live and die by laws they had little or no hand in creating.
You see it in phrases like “society has decided.” But not once have the authorities gone around asking people if they really agree with the decisions they’re expected to follow, and instead expect people to accept rules that were made by those long dead, who lived in a society and culture that doesn't exist anymore. And so those long-departed people are still forcing their agenda, culture and beliefs on those who are alive today.
You see it in the way that a society generally takes almost a lifetime to catch up with the viewpoints and values of the contemporary culture. The very essence of every society is to control and suppress in order to maintain the power structure and hierarchy. And when you are born into a society, its leaders ensure that you are silenced and made complacent long enough, until you no longer seek to throw off the suppression you were born to but instead become comfortable with it. And then you fight to protect the thing you once despised as a young person, because now you have bought into the status quo. Your house, your job, your social status ─ all the things you lacked as a young person but now have, require the system to stay the same. And this is how the structure of suppression and control continues generation after generation, with little to no change in the core fabric of society.
The fabric of a society can only be rewoven when its people have suffered enough under the status quo. The form that suffering takes will be different among people and cultures ─ but enough people suffering for enough reasons collectively create the critical mass of anger and resentment needed to upset the balance long enough to reengineer the society. It is like two tectonic plates sliding against each other with tremendous pressure, until one gives in to the stronger force. Unfortunately throughout time, the stronger force usually has been the current power structure of the day.
I know so many people are asking, “Where is the leadership of this movement, and what is the direction?” The reason why there is no leader right now to provide direction is because in our digital age and government surveillance, having a leader means that the movement can be squashed very quickly by cutting off its head, long before it can mount an attack on the structure.
This is why we are seeing more of guerrilla warfare techniques where there is no obvious leader and no primary structure to dismantle. Instead you see in all of these protests, demonstrations and rioting thousands of individuals with their own pain, their own suffering, for whatever reasons and circumstances. It is like an injured wild animal that won’t understand you’re trying to help it, and will lash out at you as well.
The rationale and mental state of each person participating in one of these protest events does not matter, because perception is reality, and in their reality they are suffering one way or another, whether it be over racial divides, economic barriers or other causes. The last thing I want to see is more human suffering for any reason, but unfortunately so much human suffering has been happening on so many levels to so many people for various reasons. And it has gone unrecognized and unseen for too long.
So even though you may say this movement has no common ground and no leadership, I say the common ground is suffering, and the common leader is the longing to not suffer. Maybe it's time to stop looking at the protests, rioting and looting with judgmental eyes and instead start viewing them with love and compassion. It is suffering humans tired of suffering in whatever ways they perceive suffering to be. When you look at it through this lens, the scene changes and then suddenly what seemed like chaos is now chaotic order. And that means you can reach out with understanding even if you have different notions of what suffering is.
This is true regardless of culture, time, sexuality or ethnicity. I will never be a black man and I will never speak his language of suffering, but I can still translate it into my own language and place it next to my own definition of suffering. So I plan to reach out with compassion even though I can't truly understand everything. And I encourage all of us to try to do the same.