June 5, 2020 Author: Matthew Renze

I’d like to take a moment to address the protests that have happened around the world these past few days. In addition, I want to take a moment to show my public support for those of you who are working together, peacefully, towards racial equality.

I support the peaceful protesters using their voices to make our world a better place by promoting social justice and equality for all.

I support the police officers who are protecting our citizens, our property, our laws, and our right to protest.

I support anyone who stands for equality, empathy, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press.

I DO NOT support the opportunists who are looting, damaging property, or inciting violence. These actions do not help us move our society forward in a positive direction.

I DO NOT support the police officers who are using force against peaceful protesters, the media, or innocent bystanders. The use of force should only be permitted as a proportional response to an actual threat.

I DO NOT support any person, institution, or law that promotes racism, divisiveness, or hate. These worldviews are born out of fear, a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, and a lack of respect.

In the past week, the majority of the protests I’ve seen have been peaceful and respectful on both sides. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen a few incidents involving a small subset of people looting, destroying private property, and provoking violence. In addition, I’ve seen a few incidents involving a small subset of police officers using excessive force on peaceful protesters, members of the press, a child, a pregnant woman in a car, and an elderly man.

While these negative incidents are small in comparison to the positive social change that is happening all around us; unfortunately, these incidents are the bulk of what I’ve seen reported by mainstream media sources. This is creating a highly distorted view of reality in order to paint a political narrative either against the protesters or against the police. Both of these biased viewpoints are not helping elicit positive change. They are just creating a further divide in an already dangerously divided nation.

Our society is built on a social contract between the people and our government. It is both parties’ responsibility to maintain their part of this contract. However, when our government has failed to uphold its responsibility to treat all of its citizens equally and respectfully, it is our duty to remind the government of their role in this reciprocal relationship.

In a democracy, we have three main tools to promote positive change via this social contract: (1) We can vote for leadership that we believe will enact this change for us. (2) We can protest our government when they have failed to uphold their end of our social contract. (3) Or we can revolt against the government as a last resort when the first two options have failed.

It is my sincere hope that we can come together as a united people to fix what is broken in our social contract using the first two means of peaceful recourse. We want to do whatever we can to avoid having to resort to the third and final tool for change, if possible. The cost of revolution, though necessary at times, is simply too high to bear if there are still peaceful options available.

So, to everyone peacefully protesting on behalf of George Floyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, you have my full support. It is imperative that we undo the damage of hundreds of years of structural, systemic, and institutional racism. If there is anything that I can do to help those of you on the front lines in this fight for racial equality, please let me know. I sincerely want to do whatever I can to amplify the voices of the peaceful protesters and effect positive change.

To everyone else, I sincerely ask you to please take a moment to reflect on your words and actions to see whether they are accidentally or intentionally re-enforcing inequality, selective privilege, institutional racism, or social divide. I encourage you to try to think less about how this civil unrest is making you feel personally and instead try to empathize with those who have suffered their entire lives under an unjust and oppressive system.

Please learn about the history of racism in America from reliable sources. Make friends with people that are different from you and learn about their view of the world. Then use your voice to speak up for those whose voices are being silenced. If those of us with an audience, a position of power, or societal privilege don’t speak out against injustice, nothing will ever change. All it takes for evil to flourish in this world is for good people to do nothing.

Finally, please be mindful that your words and actions (as well as your silence or inaction) are shaping the future of our world today. What each of us say and do in these next few days, weeks, and months will likely be remembered for generations to come. Please do your best to end up on the right side of history.

No matter who you are, where you live, the color of your skin, or what you believe, we all have only one planet to inhabit and only one life to live. Despite all of our differences, we all desire pretty much the same things – to be safe, to be happy, and to feel loved.

Please be kind to one another.

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