Ramón Del Castillo, PhD
Nations are like human beings with a shared collective conscience that defines morality for civil society. When moral issues divide citizens, its collective conscience becomes imbalanced seeking out a rational resolution. A well developed, just and morally sound conscience also suffers when its’ established moral code is in contradiction. When challenging times arise without resolution—specifically when a nation is in dire conflict or when a nation’s population has not resolved its collective pain, angry people take to the streets to protest while the soul wound yearns for healing.
The pandemonium over the execution of George Floyd was a powder keg lying dormant that was ignited by police brutality. Four police officers on national television stood idly by and watched as the life seeped out of Mr. George Floyd’s body caused by the illegal choke hold placed on him by one of their own. They were unable to summon a rational humanistic impulse or a tinge of humanity to stop the beating; perhaps because of the pernicious behavior that may well be part of the cop culture of Minnesota’s finest. It also reveals either the collective antisocial personality of the officers in particular or the police department in general. Watching that type of behavior from those who are paid “to serve and protect,” leaves imprints on the mind that will linger on indefinitely in the minds of those who observed this.
Watching that type of behavior from those who are paid “to serve and protect,” leaves imprints on the mind that will linger on indefinitely in the minds of those who observed this.
When strategies for healing following a traumatic event are absent, individuals and the nation repress those images—magnify that for 400 years. Since the United States of América has proclaimed nationhood, Blacks and Latinos have lived in insurmountable fear about their future, the increased growth of racism, and an economic system that has failed them—they are suffering from historical and intergenerational trauma. Without intervention anger sprouts—looking for a release mechanism. When unattended, the social conscience becomes fertile ground for a swell of uninvited guests—provocateurs, agitators, anarchists, and infiltrators ready to exploit the unresolved pain of the powerless paralyzed in the crevices of its social conscience—in this case their agenda is disguised symbolically through the masks worn to protect citizens from the pandemic.
Many activists came dressed as extremists—spreading hate, violence and vigilantism. Many of them are provocateurs who thrive on lawlessness and defy any type of authority—at best lacking any sense of civility. The groups that have infiltrated our major cities are not in concert with the grieving and healing ceremonies that are needed to heal soul wound. Their tactics are antithetical, causing more harm than good. Human beings prone to violence will eventually become companions to evil—that insidious energy that destroys even the best of our species.
América’s national and local governments may have finally learned a lesson, albeit late, that its’ citizens were not going to retreat into shells and hide from the truth anymore. When the social and psychological deterioration caused by the current pandemic is taken into consideration, citizens suffering from malnutrition, insufficient health care and unbearable unemployment rates, pent up frustration, anger and rage begin to ooze out. Equally at fault is the partisan politics by the federal administration that have deprived citizens of hard-earned tax dollars in order to survive during the pandemic. ¡Ya Basta! The many false promises made to the Black and Brown communities had reached a tipping point. You can only push so far until the underdogs draw a line in the sand. The murder of George Floyd was the final act. The repressed rage was released—a destructive force both internally and externally.
The current militarized zone in Minnesota and many major cities in América including Denver resemble the riots in Banana Republics where supposedly citizens lack civility. It has been transformed into terrorism—a contradiction in outcomes. The “thug behavior” described by the President Trump come from some of his constituents, following their leader who sits in his oval office with a smirk on his face—shouting invectives at the socially powerless.
The police officer, Derek Chavin who allegedly murdered George Floyd, has now been charged with murder, and although many know that the double standard of justice at this point has prevailed again, only through constructive protests will order be restored. Justice will prevail and the other three officers will eventually be charged. This will require collective action from both sides of this dispute. No longer will kangaroo courts be accepted as noble, hard-working citizens have spoken.
As América attempts to quell the civil unrest and restore law and order, it may not be able to do both, especially since its’ President has made a mockery of the rule of law, defied it, ridiculed it and shamed this country in front of the international community. His lack of leadership in time of crisis is abominable. He leads with the intensity of a bully who lacks empathy.
The President lacks an understanding of law—invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act used in times of civil disorder, insurrection and rebellion without states’ requests might nullify his action. There are other legal complications that would have to be overcome to realize this. Governors don’t need his volatile assistance—our own Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have written to the president informing him that this presence will not be requested.
Violence in Denver and the surrounding metro area may not be feasible and sustainable without building a culture of peace. To paraphrase some of our illustrious leaders such as King, Chávez, Ghandi and Huerta on the question of nonviolence, we have to practice active resistance to nonviolence not passive resistance. Active resistance feeds the soul wound spiritually. Nonviolent action requires a special kind of courage, especially when historically violence has been the norm that governs behavior in times of conflict. Being nonviolent does not mean being a coward. Responsible citizens have moral obligations to obey just laws, laws based on humanitarian principles that place the interests of humanity in the forefront. On the other hand, responsible citizens have moral obligations to disobey unjust laws through civil disobedience. As Martin Luther King stated “noncooperation with evil is just as much a moral obligation as cooperation with good.” Change will only be real if it is exercised through nonviolent protest. Social Justice and activism through nonviolent means is medicine for the soul—knowing that you have the ability to shape your own destiny is healing in action.
In Indigenous cultures, prior to protests and marches, the summoning of the antepasados always occurs, as those with wisdom and guidance are called upon to journey with the community. Los Danzantes have always practiced ceremony at the annual César E. Chávez yearly marches—through ceremony, prayers and the summoning of the antepasados, our marches are spiritually protected.
The time has come to heal the soul wound.
Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist. © 6-1-2020 Ramón Del Castillo.
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