Guest Column by Ralph Massullo | Citrus County Chronicle
We often wonder what possesses people to do some of the things they do. Things that would make any reasonable person shudder. Things like a police officer placing his knee on a handcuffed man’s neck and holding him down on the concrete until he dies of asphyxiation. Things like other police officers standing around and watching such an awful tragedy unfold and doing nothing to stop it. Things like anger and rage so intense that people lose control and start acting violently without regard for others. Things like organized groups of people who selfishly believe in anarchy, the destruction of society and societal norms, and who will strategically use any event to stoke the incendiary flames that fuel their agenda with discontent, conflict, destruction and lawlessness. Things like racial injustice and bigotry that breeds discrimination that cuts to the core of our very being, fosters fear, anxiety and hate that lasts for years and often lifetimes. All these things would make any reasonable person shudder. But to begin to find solutions, we need to look inside ourselves and ask, are we reasonable and are we not also responsible?
As we begin to turn the corner on the first quarter of the 21st century we can see many advances that have made our lives and society better. Technology has helped us immensely in connecting us to each other and much of the information in the world; however, it has become a double-edge sword. Our human nature often has a difficult time assimilating the enormous amount of information constantly bombarding us and deciphering what is truthful and/or meaningful. We need to address these issues as we move forward; however, the fact remains this progress has benefited everyone. We have also made much progress with race relations, particularly in the last two generations with leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who advocated for a world where we view everyone not by their skin color, but rather the content of their character. But unlike technology where advances can be incremental and cumulative, even one episode of racial hate and abuse can destroy years of hard work and advances. It is especially egregious when such an act is perpetrated by one who is sworn to protect and defend that very person who becomes their victim. All of us should be outraged by such blatant disregard for human life and dignity. All of us should be saddened that our law enforcement as a vital institution of maintaining our society with over 800,000 dedicated, self-sacrificing men and women, can be stained by the actions of a very few bad actors who perhaps in retrospect should never have worn a badge in the first place. All that being said, the answer to making things right is not to destroy personal and public property, loot businesses owned by those who employ your fellow citizens, attack and kill innocent individuals and act with lawless narcissism. In fact, that accomplishes the opposite effect and simply promotes more of the same problem that began the protests initially and is equally sickening.
However, that is exactly what many controlling, self-serving, anti-American groups hope to accomplish. They strive to deceive the public with their schemes and lies on how to make things better, while all along their intent is to destroy our country with blatant disregard for any of us. The individual not only does not matter, which is obvious from watching the horrific riots, they are expendable. Do not fall prey to their siren song, coaxing you to even partially justify such behavior in the name of justice. It is wrong and evil.
The cure to remedy racism, bigotry and discrimination has always been elusive to our human experience because of fear and ignorance and our striving for self-meaning. We all want to matter, even if it means someone else doesn’t. The irony is that the answer of what we want has been in plain sight for over 2000 years, incorporated in our Constitution and the premise of every advance we have achieved through the centuries. The truth is we are all created equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of our laws through the Constitution of our great country. America is unique in all the world in our pervasive views of individual rights and freedoms, yet we are firm in the principle that all of us are created equal with the implication that racism, bigotry and discrimination should never be tolerated. Unfortunately, there will always be bad actors, but it makes no sense why anyone would seek to change and destroy the foundations of our great republic that strives for the very equality that they put at risk.
As difficult as it may be to hear, the answer begins with each of us. We need to educate our children on those principles of doing for others as you would have them do for yourselves, of holding others in higher regard than ourselves, and realizing we humans are placed on this Earth to serve and not always be served. We need to rise above the fear and ignorance that causes us to look with suspicion on others differently for any reason and strive to live in such a way to help the other humans around us. All of us need to be more respectful of each other. Yes, call out injustice when you see it! Yes, let your voice be heard, because our country exists for the will of the people! Yes, together let’s change whatever is needed regarding training and oversight of any organization to better fulfill its mission and fit the needs of our evolving society! But, let us never again fall prey to the evil of anarchy and chaos that only harms us all. Like it or not, we are all in this boat called America together, and from my perspective, with all our faults, there is no better place in this world to be. It’s our duty to respect and preserve it.
Dr. Ralph Massullo is the Florida District 34 state representative, which serves Citrus County.