What Fear Does
Weeks ago, before I went to bed, I was looking through my twitter feed and the majority of what I read was about the violence that has erupted in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of Michael Brown. I was spending time with a friend of mine a few days prior and she asked me what my thoughts were on that particular subject. I am from Blue Springs, Missouri, which is about 25 minutes East of Kansas City and over four hours from Ferguson. When I was a kid, the population was between 17,000-21,000 people. Until it made the news, I had never heard of Ferguson, Missouri. And it is a shame that such an incident as death was what it took to bring this city to the countries awareness. As my friend and I talked I shared that I am able to see both sides of the argument. That does not mean that I understand exactly how both sides are feeling, I’m not there. There will be details that only Michael Brown, the shooting officer and possibly his partner will ever know that are the truth of the matter. Everything else might be speculation and interpretation. If in fact the actions of the officer are as simple as him making the choice to shoot a man without his life being in danger, may he be sent to prison without chance of parole or release.
I see any act that emotionally or physically injures another human being as an act of fear stemming from an inability to respond from a place other than in that fear. That officer shot Michael Brown because he was afraid, plain and simple. What he was afraid of, I’ll never know and neither will most of the world. It has been said by many people that love and fear are powerful motivations for any action we take. As human beings, we quickly assign other feelings to it because who wants to admit that they are afraid? We say we are concerned, worried, uncomfortable or uneasy. At the base of all of those is fear and it is a virus that can save a life or take one. We live in a world that uses fear as a life force. Fear of unemployment, fear of authority, fear that anything in our grocery stores, homes and restaurants are harmful and can make you sick or worse, kill you. People make the choice to live in fear every day. I used to live in fear a lot and my fear was of other black people. I was afraid that I would not fit in, afraid that they would not accept me. On more than one occasion in my life as a child I have had other black boys ridicule me for the way that I dressed, talked and acted. I lived in Harlem, NY for 8yrs and for the first 4 or 5 of those years I was, at some degree, afraid of how the neighborhood would view me. Was I too gay or too “white” acting to live there? One night, after going home from a seminar class that I was taking, I was walking to my apartment from the subway. I was walking behind two other black men that were going in the same direction as me. I had my headphones on and not thinking anything in particular about either of them. As I approached them to walk to my building one of the men was startled by my sudden presence. My presence wasn’t really all that sudden because I was wearing cowboy boots with a wooden heel that make as much noise as a tap shoe when you walk. His reaction of fear towards me made me laugh out loud at him as I walked by and in that moment I understood that fear is the driving force of most every human being on this planet. Of all the reactions I thought I would get from another man in Harlem, fear was not even on the top 5 of the list. After that night, I stopped being afraid of how the people in my neighborhood would view me.
We all have our own emotional history that has shaped how we see the world and certain situations in our lives and I would like to encourage us all to let go of that history. Emotional history is out dated and limited because we are not the same people today that we were then. At that time we were working from a different skill set emotionally and unless we have chosen to stunt our emotional growth, we will have a wider emotional skill set to work from. I’m not saying that it isn’t helpful to learn from our emotional pasts, we just don’t have to live today as if it were the same as 5yrs ago, because it isn’t. And if it is the same, why are we choosing to keep it the same?
As I laid in bed looking at articles and comments about what was happening in Ferguson, Missouri I felt so helpless and sad. I wanted so badly to contribute something to the world before I closed my eyes to it and the following tweet was all that I could think to contribute.
‘I don’t know how 2 stop a world of pain but I do know how 2 bring luv 2 the world. #ILUVU #ILUVU #ILUVU #ILUVU #ILUVU #ILUVU’