I was lucky enough to be able to get together with some friends recently, outside, socially distanced, and relax with a few drinks. The few of us together have different types of careers, we’re different ages, we have much different perspectives on the world. We also end up dealing with people in the world in much different ways and places on a regular basis. While some of my friends are at home, some work in town and some go to an office.
We talked a bit about the unrest in one of our local communities, Aurora, CO. It has been the site of protests, and unfortunately, violence against both members of the community and police. I support protest, I do not support violence.
In any case, a few of my friends, who are white, noted that some police officers don’t like to go out in the community, even for things like groceries. People yell at them, or give them mean/bad/angry looks. One of my friends has a truck that looks like some of the undercover police vehicles, and he’s been yelled at by random people who think he’s a law enforcement officer.
Their thoughts were that there are bad police, but to lump everyone together in one group isn’t fair.
That’s a powerful statement. It’s also from a specific perspective. Someone that sympathizes with the change in the lives of the police, with their discomfort with the status quo not being the same. With police not being respected.
My statement was, think about lumping everyone on the protester side, or the Person of Color side. How often have black people, or middle easterners, or asians, or women been lumped together? How often have you taken a stance based on your tribe, on who you identify with?
Most of us do it often. Tribal identity is a human characteristic. We often choose to identify with others. We also allow a narrative, a story, a certain presentation to influence us. This has been shown in study after study. We often are less unbiased than we think.
It is sad that police don’t feel welcome in their community. It’s also sad that many others feel discriminated against or oppressed. It’s distressing that we don’t all get along better, even with basic respect if there isn’t any reason to like each other.
We all need to do better, both in our behavior and in the way we look at others.