If we can keep it
Bear with me, this is a slightly different approach to this newsletter than I usually take. I’m just going to share some thoughts with you all.
I’m not a particularly young man anymore, and over the years, I’ve seen a lot. There have been wars, financial crises, impeachments, terrorist attacks, and more. But this past week and a half have been, to put it lightly, something else.
And I’m still not really sure how to talk about it. I know how I feel about it, though: Disgusted. While America has been something of a tinderbox for the past few years — and probably longer than that — watching it culminate into the recent wave of protests and over-the-top responses by the powers that be has left me exhausted and dismayed.
While police violence and inequality are long-standing issues, a few key, recent events effectively kicked over the candles. First, about a month ago, two guys killed a black, unarmed jogger for no apparent reason. On video.
Then, there was the woman in Central Park who decided to call the police on a guy who was enjoying a little bird watching and had the gall to call her out on having her dog off-leash.
Finally, the murder of George Floyd. Again, on camera, and again, for no discernable reason. This is what sent people into the streets, and rightfully so.
In my opinion, there’s no excuse for this. We can all come to our own conclusions, but if you want to watch these videos, it’s hard to comprehend what is going through these people’s heads.
And then there’s the government’s response to the protests. In my opinion, it’s been WAY over the top. Yes, there have been some bad actors among the protestors, but I can’t help but feel that the overtly militant response by many police departments and the federal government has made things worse.
All of it — the ongoing viral outbreak, the protests, the sending of troops into the streets — has had me thinking about a quote from Benjamin Franklin which I find particularly powerful in times like these:
“There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.”
If we can keep it. Think about that.
It’s up to us to keep it together. And for us to keep it, we’re going to need to evolve. To do a little better. To try a little harder.
But there’s a reason that things don’t change: Change requires work. It requires effort. And for some people, that means wrestling with uncomfortable ideas, or looking at the world from another’s perspective. It’s not easy, and the work and effort is something that many of our peers are willing to engage in.
Just look at some of the issues we’ve been sparring with during recent years. Take gun violence, for example. We have an issue with gun violence in this country, and yet we’ve done almost nothing to combat it. That’s not for a lack of ideas or policy proposals, some of which have plenty of public support. It’s because change is hard, and it seems that nobody wants to stick their neck out for the greater good.
Times of strife, though, may be the catalyst that pushes us toward that greater good.
Just look around. The country is in chaos. Tens of thousands of people have been killed by a viral outbreak over the past several months. American cities are on fire. The military has been ordered into the streets. I never thought I’d see anything like this, and yet, it’s somehow unsurprising, too. Either way, here we are.
I’ll wrap it up and climb off my soapbox now, but I just want to say that we can all do better, and we should expect better of ourselves, our neighbors, friends, leaders, and government.
Do the right thing. Pick each other up.
A few other things
Here are a few other things I thought I’d share with you this week, which are important to keep in mind given what’s going on in the world:
Since bottoming out in March, the stock market had its best 50-day stretch on record.
More than 108,000 people have now been killed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 43 million people are out of work, according to the most recent unemployment data (a jobs report is out today, too). That’s around a quarter of all Americans.
The election is creeping up on us, and is sure to roil the markets as it gets closer. So keep that in mind.
This guy was on a silent meditation retreat for the past 75 days and missed everything. Lucky bastard.
Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. Hopefully, next week will be better.