Living in Japan means I am often late to hear news of events in the US. A friend shared the below article with me and, while I am saddened by the death of this young man, I do share the bafflement of the public. Real life violence is ugly, uglier than the most graphic movies can ever suggest, and the story of this man’s death is tragically not unique.

An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead.

The police were in enemy territory from their perspective. Gray showed fear by running in reaction to making eye contact with the police. Also in a state of fear themselves, this primal interaction triggered the balance of fear in the officers’ favor, sending them into the tunnel of violence from which the only exit is exhaustion or physical restraint.

The true ugliness behind violence, particularly of the police brutality kind, is that there is no rational explanation. Moreover, we like to believe that this degree of viciousness is restricted to a select few, evil members of society. If we could only punish them hard enough, or predict and thwart them consistently enough, we could erase it from our collective existence. But the potential for violence is in all of us and if the circumstances are just so, each and every one of us is capable of murdering our own best friend. 恐ろしいでしょう。

The “non-violence” this article calls out may come from the wrong side of the fight. However, we all must keep our eyes on the goal and our hearts in love. Mr. Gray would be better honored if peace could be found between the police and the people. The city of Baltimore would be a better place to live if a conversation could be had where all could be heard. No doubt the police did a terrible thing, but to punish without mercy is to start a war. To forgive and remedy is to have peace.

The choice before the people of Baltimore is not riot or not riot, it is a choice to grow or to fester. To grow is difficult and requires love, but it is without a doubt the more beautiful path.


The statements in this post are based on the works of Conrad Lorenz (Aggression) and Randall Collins (Violence)

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