The Clarity of Waste

There is no point in rehashing the details, other than to say it happened in broad daylight, in front of literally hundreds of people, in a major metropolitan area, outside a crowded retail store, in a normal suburban setting, and that truly no crime had been committed.  It will surely go down as one horrible and tragic misunderstanding.  He was a former military officer, a graduate of a major university, a holder of an MBA from a prestigious school, a successful upper middle class professional, white male in his late 30’s.  He was shot dead by police.

In the end the details are not terribly important. The end result cannot be changed. Death is that way – especially violent death. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a jolt to bring things into focus. I just wish that jolt of clarity had hit the three police officers before they fired on Saturday afternoon.  This time the victim of a police shooting was someone I knew; he was someone like me.

I get it. I understand. I empathize. I see what you mean. We mean it when we say it.  However, do we ever really understand what someone else feels? How they see things? What their experience really is? I for one fear I did not really “get it” until earlier today.

We have all heard the stories of police shootings, of situations gone wrong.  Ironic in a way, for the first time I really do get how it must feel for the African-American male who sees their acquaintances killed in tragic, questionable circumstances by the police.  I now know the vulnerability of the citizen of a totalitarian regime, of the person who wonders am I next, will they take someone I know?  I now understand the uncertainty that must go through the mind of women, of minorities, of those who live in fear.

Nothing good will ever come of the loss of life Saturday afternoon.  I knew the victim.  Not well, but I know with certainty he was a good guy in every single sense of the phrase.  He had no idea what was going to happen to him…he literally never saw it coming.  It is, without question, a total and complete waste.  It has brought genuine sincerity to a series of phrases I have used all too often but never really understood.  That much is clear to me know.  I get it.  I wish I didn’t.

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One response to “The Clarity of Waste

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