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From the Right: Reaching Out After Ferguson

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The events in Ferguson have brought out many strong opinions, but clinging to our comfort zones and ignoring a great chance to move grow?

By Justin Shimko

I’m curious how many people have had their Facebook news feed flooded with comments relating to the events in Ferguson. How many of you had your Twitter feed plastered with images, comments, meme’s, posts and whatnot appear on their feed that strongly slanted towards one side of the situation or the other regarding the small town in Missouri? Was it some people against the decision and a lot in favor of it? Did some people outwardly pray the Justice Department‘s investigation into the Ferguson Police Department will bring justice? Everyone criticizing the rioting and a few understanding why it happened? Or maybe a bunch of comparisons to the OJ trial or Rodney King riots?

Ferguson has reopened the need to look at our differences and learn from them.The seemingly one-sidedness in our lives is where I think things break down in our world. Not just today but over all history (and likely prehistory). We, as humans, automatically fear those that are different from us, even more so when the differences are immediately apparent. Whenever we encounter something that goes against the grain of our worldview, we quickly enter into protection mode. Protection of our positions, protection of our beliefs, our property, our families, our livelihood.

We can let down our defenses to those that instigate fear in our subconscious. When we work to face these fears, reach out to the liberal who thinks your hero was a racist that further accelerated the gap between the rich and poor or talk to the evangelical who thinks gay marriage is an abomination to god’s laws, will we start understanding others and stop fearing that which is different. The situation in Ferguson did not have to happen. But it did. And it does.

The violence we see in the streets, the accusations of racism and thuggery (and both) are not just visible from this town, but all over the the nation. Sometimes the problem has a different name. Black and white. Rich and poor. Gay and straight, North and South. But this isn’t a Ferguson problem. Nor is it an American problem. It’s a human problem.

The dichotomy that breeds anger and hatred isn’t visible in Ferguson because of a cop who is free be broken down to the simplest issue that has plagued humanity since humanity began: differences make us uncomfortable and that discomfort leads to disagreement and violence. India and Pakistan, where religions are used to divide a people. Israel and Palestine, again with religion but also with property rights stemming hundreds of generations. China and Japan. Russia and Ukraine. Native Europeans and immigrants from all over. These all have histories no different than what we see in the United States.

Can we overcome this issue? Can we move forward after Ferguson, trusting one another and evolving to accept differences? Maybe. It starts when we acknowledge the differences and see what happens. Don’t fear but learn. Instead of forcing the government to find new ways to create animosity between two groups of people, we force ourselves to recognize that there are two groups of people and that the other group is, at the basic level, no different than us.

Justin Shimko

Justin Shimko is an award-winning writer and political analyst. He began as a reporter in his college days at the University of Oklahoma, writing for The Oklahoma Daily (rated as one of the best collegiate newspapers in the nation) and The Oklahoman, the statewide newspaper, winning awards from the CSPA and the Society of Professional Journalists. He later moved on to research and writing work for a number of political campaigns. His email is [email protected]

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