Mending a Shattered National Identity


America is burning right now. Store fronts, cars, police stations, entire communities have been engulfed in flames rising from the product of national negligence. As our news feeds have become inundated by a plethora of videos depicting senseless violence across the country, it would be natural to ask oneself in disbelief, “what is happening?”.
However, the answer to this question is all too clear: Empathy is dead.

Somewhere hidden deep beneath the refuse of twitter arguments and news bias, lies the rotting hulk of American exceptionalism; an America long forgotten where police and citizens alike united in solidarity in the aftermath of national tragedy.
Well, it’s happened again; except this time, it is a self-inflicted wound. Another unnecessary casualty caught up in a much larger web of tangled grievances and insecurities over 200 years in the making.

The death of George Floyd was no accident. As his breathing slowed and his voice faltered under the weight of his sworn protector, Floyd was unable to successfully plead with his assailants before he perished.

If only his accusers had felt the weight of their actions similar to their own weight on his neck.
If only his avengers had chosen to confront institutional failings rather than conduct summary justice.

Regardless of the particularities of the aftermath, it goes without saying that George Floyd did not deserve to die. And yet it seems as though the same moral failings culprit for his death have consumed our national discourse.

Floyd’s murder, the subject of international ire, is endemic to a larger violence plaguing America.
George Floyd and every other member of the American public gunned down or choked out by not-so-foreign occupiers are testaments to the similar murder of compassion within the American discourse.

Empathy, whose name is championed by each marching protesters, is often overlooked by the actions of those too immature to engage in civil discourse and national dialogue.
The looters, the conspiracy peddlers, the moral signalers, the deniers, all share blame for the degradation of the only space available for wounds such as these to heal.burning america

Police brutality and its subsequent reactions have taken our already damaged national discourse to a crescendo of absurdity where it has become too evident that the America as bastion of civil tolerance is no more.
Instead, we are a country of torn allegiances.

When the victim does not match our ideological narrative, we are all too quickly dismissive.
We become too willing to shift the blame regardless of fact, often choosing to creep deeper into our ideological burrows safe from the dangers of self-criticism and alien perspectives.

Americans on both sides of the aisle have lost the ability to see conflict from the other side of the thin line we call a political spectrum. The consequences are displayed for the world to see. It is not uncertain that we have reached a critical point in the development of the American experiment.

Where political liberalism once claimed supremacy, the public sphere is now consumed with ad hominem and intentional subversion of fact for cheap political gain. Our institutional leadership likewise falls back on the moral indemnity provided by political partisanship rather than assume responsibility for the damage done.

The burden now rests on the average American who, with meagre ability and belief, is tasked with singlehandedly surmounting the legacy of systemic racism and injustice.

We are all inheritors of a legacy of injustice and intolerance. No one in their right mind could claim that America has ever been perfect. But it is in the acknowledgement and acceptance of our imperfections that we can begin to unite toward a more civil union.

At times it feels as though we have all been cast well into the abyss.
We are surrounded by an increasing quantity of troubles both national and personal, but to despair and give in to the violence would be an admission of defeat that would irrevocably harm our nation and tarnish any semblance of justice that Floyd and countless others deserved.

To right the mistakes of our past, all it takes is a little more compassion from both sides of the divide.

To witness these crimes repeated is a betrayal of our moral obligations. How easily will we forget the pain incurred by the loss of our fellow Americans this time?
We post status updates feigning support for an issue far removed from our own experiences.
We judge the contents of a movement by the actions of heedless agitators.
We seldom stop to acknowledge our own impact, our own ignorance. How often do we ask ourselves whether we are part of the problem or the solution?

The only way to escape the revolving door of violence is to extend a measure of compassion previously absent. We must break free from our convictions and find common ground to stand on.

How can we expect others to change when we are not willing to change ourselves? Sympathy becomes our best weapon against the divisive elements of our time. Sympathy is more powerful than any brick, or baton. It does not loot or burn.
It does not beat or gas. It does not demean or divide.

Only when we are able to look down the barrel of a gun and see ourselves will we be able to address the issues choking our nation.

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