The strokes of our nation’s brush

Credit: William Felker Paint Brushes picture

Credit: William Felker – Wide and fine paint brushes

Perhaps this might be my most meaningful blog I have ever written.  I write this as a White American.

As we struggle as a nation to come together at this very tragic time, I wake up today with a message which I hope resonates. America is beautiful not because of its divisions, but by its collaborations.  As so many of us are down right now, I plead with all of you to not give up the faith that made this country great.

As many here know, I have my viewpoints on this year’s political race for President of the United States. There are times for healthy discussions on different policies.  However, today is not the time.  Today, this present moment, a moment that is alive, beating, and waiting for action, is a day that I call for a GREATNESS which most of us with moral conscience have to propel all of us past the bickering and the traditional “taking of sides” and really begin to understand each other.

I am now going to attempt to bring out a truth that many people do not understand

We are taught from a very young age that there are winners and losers; that there is success and failure; that there are all rights and all wrongs; and finally that there is “us vs. them.”  Those all have many truths and is part of life.  However, we are not taught about nuance.  Yes, nuance.  There are really very few things as absolutes.  The moon revolves around the earth, the sun sets and then it rises, the oceans are massive and the air is free.

How about if I proposed that with most everything else, people with differences could be passionate about their positions without disregarding the other person’s point of view?  Many people think that goes against basic logic.  It goes that if we have a subjective thought and preference, all other thoughts must be a polar opposite.  No nuance, just a big brush stroke from the artist palette of life.

Please allow me to proffer a poignant remark of this weeks’ tragedies with police officer killings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and St. Paul, Minnesota, and the horrific assassination of five police officers in Dallas, Texas simply doing their everyday job to protect and to serve their community.

I am shouting out for an end to the either/or mentality that makes us small.  I demand that we must now be big.  I demand that our politicians stop taking their usual sides when these controversial issues come our way by not giving an inch to the other sides’ views. Life is not a zero sum game, and I cannot stress it enough.

Credit: Adreinne Crowpicture - blue painted woman in the midnight skies

Credit: Adreinne Crow – Blue painted woman in the midnight skies

Can we start changing our attitudes as a country and believe that two apparently different points of views can both be right sometimes?  Well, it sure can, and here is how the two tragedies should be viewed:

Our fellow and equal black citizens can have a point of view of police through their REAL and UNIQUE experiences.  They are targeted much more by police officers over other races…Period!  It is just a plain fact.  Let’s accept it and deal with this issue once and for all. Now EQUALLY, it is a fact that the overwhelming majority of our brave citizens who put on their badge everyday to protect and to serve our communities are good and honest people who have chosen a career to help and protect ALL of us.  Police officers across our land MUST be respected. Without them, who protects our nations of laws without going into anarchy?

Both sides are right!  Can you feel the difference when you say this to yourself?

So let’s go back to my rhetorical nation’s paint brush from the beginning of this blog.  Which brush would you like to pick up right now to paint the future of our country?  There is a paint brush that we have been using way too much.  It’s that thick, broad brush.  The brush that is usually applied as a base or background on our canvas.  Maybe think of that thick, broad brush as our physical country and our Constitution.  Now, we want to paint a picture with detail, filled with thousands of thin, finely brushed strokes. So, we now need to choose the remaining brushes which puts context and truth to our total picture.  Only then will we be able to marvel at our creation made by the greatest artists of all…..WE!

I know that I grieved for the two black men that got shot for ‘apparently’ no reason.  I know an investigation needs to be fully completed before we cast final judgement.  However, we know what our eyes actually see and we need to starting looking at the picture through the eyes of our fellow African Americans who have seen a factually different picture than the one we hope to start creating right now. That old picture needs some brightness, movement, emotion and love.

Credit: Smartphone showing detail of blurry painted strokes

Credit: Patrick Tomasso – Smartphone showing detail of blurred painted strokes

A day later, that big, old painting that had too many long, uninspiring, broad brushes revealed a very dark picture in it – the senseless slaughter of totally innocent police officers.  I grieved equally for them.  That picture showed that each stroke was of the same size, maybe, 10 by 4 inches across, or simply abbreviated to police parlance – “10-4” – which means “confirmed.”  Did that confirm our biases?  That old picture still looks the same for some police officers.

The new picture we will create is going to enhance that old and crusty, broad stroke canvas painting with finer and more delicate strokes from our paint brush holder. As a result, the new picture of our police are going to be viewed by each individual in uniform and held together by the gorgeous ribbons that wrap that institution.  Suddenly, some of us do not see all the police as monolithic.  They have a concrete base, yet filled with numerous colors, personalities, characters, and strengths.  We now have created a new and improved picture of all police in which people in this picture who have been ‘brushed over by’ in the past (certain minorities) can now see the details and differences and no longer cast wide, swooping, dark broad strokes.

Despite our political points of view, can’t we all agree that both President Bush and President Obama are patriotic and have a deep love of our country and all its people?  They both have incredible families with fine character and class.  Do they both make some mistakes time to time?  Of course, and who does not!  That is the human condition.  How can we hold this against anybody?  Take the wide view of their painting and appreciate that truism.  They both preach bringing Americans together and not apart, and their hearts are in the right place despite their politics.

This is a call to arms for our leaders in our society, and more importantly, the future leaders of our country, to come together and recognize that we are all in it together, that it could, should and never be an “us vs. them,” and remove those dull and antiquated broad stroked paintings into the waste basket of our other less inspired canvases.

Credit: Eric Terrade - Mona Lisa picture

Credit: Eric Terrade – The Mona Lisa

If we can just start saying we everyday, and cradle and insulate our me a little more, a picture will be cast of greatness, love and beauty far richer than even the Mona Lisa.

With respect for ALL Americans.


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