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Lessons From Baltimore

by John on 05/01/2015

Now that six officers have been charged with Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore let’s look at what we have learned based on politics, economics, and even religion.

First, lots of voices online are warning of a new time of riots, unrest, and martial law.

I don’t believe it. Sure, there is anger. And there was plenty of stupid violence in Baltimore.

But let’s look at the reaction to that violence.

People from the community stepped forward to condemn the violence. People actually stepped forward to protect the police from violence.

There were diverse voices within the black community like this woman who blasted the black victim culture. Don’t call them Uncle Toms. Sure, they’re angry but they are speaking certain elements of truth. Hey would you rather be a minority here or in Somalia? I think whether you are minority or not if you are not making it here in this country than you’re not trying hard enough. You’re lucky to have won the birth lottery being born in the US.

On the other hand, I think these tough-minded voices balance other voices echoing Martin Luther King who condemned violence but also condemned those who ignore the cause of violence. These kids or young people are no different than the thousands of jihadists who are now rushing to ISIS and al Qaeda. They see their life in the US or Europe as directionless and with no future, so violence and destruction looks appealing. We accuse Europe of keeping down their Muslim population stirring up homegrown terrorists. How are we different?

We should seriously listen to both of those voices with love and understanding – and not choose one over the other. The problem is we seem to root for one side against the other and not find solutions. Fortunately and sadly, I think Baltimore has found a combination of those voices.

Second, this is an economic story.

Economic inequality is rampant – and has been slowly growing over the last few decades. As a result, too many people can’t find a job to provide a living wage today. As a government, we owe way too much money for entitlement promises made decades ago and money pumping by the Fed that will also make us poorer in the decades to come. We are paying now for all the cheap money we used foolishly from the 1980s to today – and we don’t know how to break that cycle.

What needs to change?

  • Tax reform to increase revenues but to also encourage investment in infrastructure and job training
  • Long-term entitlement reform especially in Medicare and Social Security
  • End unlimited campaign donations which favor corporations and investors hurting innovation and entrepreneurship.

But this isn’t only hurting poor minority communities, these conditions are turning away middle class folks who want to serve their communities. Sure, some cops commit crimes. But good cops are also being asked to take care of society’s ills – caused by the financial stupidity. We’re asking cops to be psychologists and coaches but we demand that they protect us. And then all we can give them is hand-me-down military equipment that they end up using on fellow citizens. We have done the same thing to teachers who have to act like another parent, disciplinarian, while also trying to educate kids who are lacking in proper nutrition and direction at home.

Third, this is also a wake up for some religions.

Sure, there are problems with all institutional churches. But we also can’t ignore the good that Christianity has done for our civilization.

So I think religion needs to start pushing contraception.

I may take some criticism for this, but hear me out.

My reason is the brave mom who berated and beat her son for taking part in the Baltimore violence. I applaud her for what she did. And I am not going to criticize her specifically for her lifestyle; I don’t know her and I don’t know the specifics of her life.

But she is a single mom with six children. How is that good for children and our society?

I blame some religions.

We need contraception desperately. I can’t fault anyone for opposing abortion. But why would you oppose abortion and then oppose contraception?

It would help solve many ills in our society. We would have fewer unwanted kids. Parents – whether single or couples, straight or gay – could concentrate on fewer kids and not be stressed financially.

I know there is the argument that the Word of God in some faiths calls for no obstruction of procreation and life.

But here’s my response.

Religion has been an aid to society for centuries.

  • Stopping procreation only creates a bigger chance of reducing the congregation.
  • There is a reason Jews eat kosher. Pork was not healthy back then.
  • There was a reason the Catholic Church forced priests not to marry so they could have fealty to the Church and the Church would not lose economic power if the priests had offspring to hand wealth down to.
  • There was a reason Mormons practiced polygamy because so many Mormon men had died and women were left homeless.

I am not saying we need to dictate who can and can’t have kids. But we have to encourage people to take responsibility for their actions because many times it has an effect on all of us.

There are solutions out there. But unfortunately, too much of our outdated thinking is not allowing those solutions to happen.

Your thoughts.

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