There’s a video circulating today that is squeezing my heart so tight, making me choke on fury and fear.
It’s a little girl (a very small 14 or 15) who’s been handcuffed and is being forced into the back of a police cruiser. She’s hysterical. Out of her mind from fear. She’s begging them to call her mom, to listen to her, to let her go.
But instead, these big men push her into the car. They tell her she has to go down to the station because she’s refused medical help after tangling up with a car. They don’t offer comfort or human kindness. No one calls her mom. They don’t offer to sit down with her on the curb and wait for her mom to come get her. They don’t seem to care that she’s terrified of them: They have decided their course of action and are now going to force their way forward.
They shove her into the car.
As she screams and pleads in the back of that car, one police officer sprays pepper spray through the crack in the window.
She starts choking and screaming, “I can’t breathe.”
(And remember, she’s handcuffed, so she can’t really move, either.)
All this because she’s a scared little girl who is terrified of being taken away by these big, intimidating police officers who are being rough and uncompassionate. Police officers – hired by local tax dollars to “Serve and Protect” – who won’t pause for a moment to consider the humanity of this tiny person they are trying to control; officers who seem completely unable to use a strategy other than force to gain compliance.
It made me think of what I wrote last year about Authority, Personhood, and Compassion.
If that group of police officers had paused, taken a collective breath, and considered the humanity of the little girl they were dealing with, this could have been different.
If they had perhaps thought, “How would I want a police officer to deal with *my* hysterical child?” or “I wonder why this little girl is so terrified of 5 hulking cops – how can I help her see that I’m not a threat to her life?” the whole situation could have been diffused.
If they had been willing to tap into compassion, I KNOW the outcome would have been different.
We *all* fall into the trap of non-compassion, ya’ll. We think our imperatives override others’ human rights. We forget to *see* when we look into another’s eyes.
We worship intentions over outcomes.
(Meaning, if you meant no harm, it doesn’t “matter” if you actually caused harm. You don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions because you didn’t mean for that outcome to occur, so…you’re off the hook and your hapless victim is left to pick up the pieces.)
You see me banging my drum over on Facebook for lots of “causes” – #nodapl, #blacklivesmatter, #syrianrefugeecrisis, #policereform #neurodiversity #ppd #otherstufficannotthinkofrightnow – and quite honestly, every single one of those issues that I soapbox about comes down to a lack of compassion. A resistance to seeing others’ plight as our own; an unwillingness to take a step back and consider how one’s actions affect someone else.
If we want the human race to flourish, we have to choose compassion over comfort.
We have to choose love over fear.
We have to.
We have to.