“Unsolvable” Problems

I think one of the most frustrating issues I have right now with my country is the seeming insistence that some problems just can’t be solved. In a nation that prides itself on its work ethic and its get-to-it-ive-ness, it’s disappointing that there are some areas where so many have just decided to shrug their shoulders and say, “If only we could solve this problem, but we can’t.”

The reasons they give for why the problem can’t be solved vary. Sometimes they fall back on “This is just part of the price of being free.” Sometimes it’s to blame the victims for not following the rules. Sometimes it’s to throw out a “But what about” statement that deflects the argument. Sometimes it’s “The economy needs this.” Sometimes they say the status quo is the lesser of two evils.

But all of those things are excuses. They’re reasons, but they don’t justify the continued acceptance of the problems. What problems? Pick your poison. Broken healthcare. Income inequality. Racism. Sexism. Mass shootings. I love America, but we have some huge, thorny problems. COVID-19 has amplified many of those problems. It set the stage for things to boil over into what we have going on today. It didn’t cause the riots or the police brutality, but it frayed tempers to the point where many just aren’t willing to sit back and stay silent anymore.

I’ve said before on the blog how much shorter my temper is these days. How little things can set me off in a way that I would never be set off under normal circumstances. Someone can make a reasonable request, and I just bristle. If that’s happening to me here in rural Maine, where the sun is shining and I have tons of room to move around in, it’s not hard to imagine how it might be affecting people elsewhere.

I am shocked and appalled at some of the videos coming out depicting our police force and their actions. While I recognize that often videos only capture part of the story, they are part of the story nonetheless. There have been times in my life when, had my actions been filmed and played back on Twitter, I would have a hard time justifying what I was doing or saying. But I did do and say those things. I recognize the videos don’t represent 100% of what’s happening, both on the side of the protesters and the police. I also recognize that there are some on both sides who would have you believe otherwise.

There will be some who want to change the subject. To talk about how rioting is bad, and how terrible it is that so much property is being destroyed. There will be others who might try to bring up social distancing and how irresponsible these protests are. There will be others who speak up to defend the police and get angry that people are maligning them. All of these points deflect from the central thrust of the protests and their root.

Racism is alive and well in our country. We’re led by a racist, and many good people support him in spite of his blatant racism. Is he wearing an armband or a white hood? No, but he’s reluctant to criticize those who do. If anyone wants to honestly tell me Trump isn’t racist, save your breath. You’re either using a wildly different definition of “racist,” or you’re drinking the Kool Aid. Yet people support him in spite of that, and when they do, they are saying “The things he does or supports outweighs the racism, sexism, crude behavior, etc.”

[Deep breath. I’m trying not to have this tail spin into another “Trump is terrible” post.]

There are people right now demonstrating across the globe about this. People in New Zealand. England. Germany. Denmark. Italy. While Trump is telling governors not to be “weak” and use more aggression to stop the riots, the rest of the world is recognizing just how unjust the situation is in America. (Seriously. He claimed the world was laughing at us because a police station in Minneapolis was burned. Don’t get me started.)

But setting aside all of that (the riots, the response, the murder, and more), the question I’m left with is “Where do we go from here?” And that’s where I get most discouraged. Because I’ve felt the same sense of futility around other issues I feel passionate about, from gun violence to our response to the pandemic. I can vote for people who line up with me on these issues, but it’s not enough for me to do that. Somehow we have to get more people involved. We have to overcome this historic malaise that seems to grip many of the country when it comes to actually voting.

These problems all have solutions. We can overcome them, but we can’t do it as long as we have an increasingly small part of the populace drowning out any effort to do so. Marching in a protest sends a message today, but unless that march is followed up with a line leading to the voting booth, I don’t see what it actually gets done.

I don’t know. I don’t have anything else in the tank for today. I’m deeply concerned and depressed by the state of current events, and I’m looking for a solution. I just wish we didn’t have to wait for November for that solution to have a chance of appearing.

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