I see the light

Posted to FaceBook earlier:

So. The beginning of the impeachment trial is done. It was…challenging for most observers. People are still trying to figure out exactly where Mr. Castro was trying to go in his long journey through far away lands of illogic and pointlessness, doubling back on itself at points, and never arriving. never arriving anywhere. he may still be talking for all we know.
onlyl one GOP Senator has changed his projected vote so far, based on the legal presentations yesterday. It’s really hard to juxtapose nonsensical jabberwocky with copious documentation of what happened on January 6th. That exercise, which I have embarked upon one too many times in the last 4 years regarding political matters. It gives me a headache, but I have no choice but to contemplate what possible reason there could be for Senators to return a not-guilty verdict in this case. Party loyalty is not a reason, it’s an excuse for not doing the right thing.
The evidence is clear, at least if you are operating on this plane of reality, where facts and evidence mean something. Where citizenship is an implied contract with other citizens for a common good, for common health and welfare. When you are convicted of a criminal offense, and you go to jail, you may be stripped of your citizenship rights, namely the right to vote. You may regain the right to vote, in particular, after satisfying your sentence, but not always. Even if your crime does not result in losing aspects of your citizenship, you are subject to some consequences. Not convicting the main player in this insurrection event would cause me to wonder whether there are no consequences for bad behavior if you happen to have money and status. I don’t want to keep believing that.
One of the arguments aginst pursuing this trial in the Senat is that…it would split the country, be too divisive. Not sure where the hell that guy has been hanging out over the past couple of decades, but we’re already divid, we’re already split. That’s what the insurrection activity showed. That event displayed, in vivid detail, that we don’t see the same things in the same ways. I believe many of those who were fighting the police and beating people with American flag poles not only didn’t see things the same way that I do, but don’t believe they are being seen at all. Back to Charlottesville – “You will not replace us.” Back to burning crosses in the night, and “Birth of a Nation” – attracting attention (and terror) for “the light of Christ”. See us.
The response to feeling invisible in a teeming society is not new, and not limited to any race or ethnicity in this country, or any other. The KKK cross burning ritual was patterned after Scottish clan traditions. When the invisibilty extends to people of color in this country, there exists the same propensity to illuminate, to provoke observers to “see” what’s going on, to see people who seem to have been ignored. Protests following the murder of George Floyd frequently escalated to fires set in retail establishments, abandoned housing, etc. This also happened in Watts during the Civil Rights movement, and various other protest responses in the country. There is a certain visceral reaction to fire, to burning, when the spirit cries out “Burn it all down. This is not how it’s supposed to be, so burn it down, and LOOK at it. See it.”.
Some of us are still trying to be seen. If people do not want to judge the insurrectionists as anything but “patriots” who are passionate about their country, that’s fine. But you can’t judge BLM protesters any differently. AND…there is redible evidence that fires and property destruction during BLM protests last year were set by non-BLM infiltrators. Even if they weren’t, however, the point remains – you can’t judge that destruction any differently than the destructiveness of the January 6th riots. Those folks trashed the U.S. Capitol. BLM protests resulted in the trashing of retail and business establishments, like CVS. They intentionally targeted specific police stations in certain protests, bringing more light to the causal issue of police brutality. That’s a little different from attacking the house of the federal government.
So. If we’re going to get out of this, I’m thinking one of the big issues to resolve is going to be…how do we see everybody in the room? When you’re in school, the classroom is traditionally set up with an instructor at the front, and students in parallel rows facing the instructor. Hopefully, everyone can see the instructor, but the students’ view is generally the back of someone else’s head, unless you’re at the proverbial head of the class. Why not reconfigure the seating, so that seating is more circular? In that arrangement, students can see each other, and much of the hierarchy disappears. The instructor is able to maintain reasonable leadership status, but students are on more of an equivalent level.
More circular arrangements also enhance the ability to hear and respond to non-verbal cues. When you can hear, you can listen. You can listen and associate the words with a face, a person, and then you can digest what is communicated at a deeper level. This is some of the logic of restorative justice. Maintaining the integrity of the community is more important than simply punitive consequence. When a community member has done something contrary to the implied contract of the community, they are not removed from the community and forced to relinquish both community membership (citizenship) and personal identity (you’re merely a number in prison, and your identity is what you’ve done). Restorative justice intends to make the crime right with the victim, and to restore the community to whole status. Everyone involved in the breach of community standards is seen, and heard, and participates in the remedy. The community does not remain broken, and nobody is discarded.
I’m not saying that restorative justice is a perfect solution for today’s woes, but just saying that it’s one solution we haven’t emphasized, one solution that has shown great results in quite a few situations. We have to start somewhere. We’re trapped in a paradigm that doesn’t work, and it’s working less and less every day. It just seems to me that at least trying something different might get us out of this non-productive (and expensive, and spirutally depleting) cycle that causes us to give up on community and each other.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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