In the protests and riots resulting from the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, people are fighting against a systemic lack of empathy. The violence brought about by this lack of empathy, even among the most common of people, is terrifying, and is why the people are furious. Bill Stierle and Tom dive into the lack of empathy in the world right now, and its violent consequences. Truth is ultimately obscured by lack of empathy. Tune in to this important discussion.
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Truth, Racism, Violence And Looting
There is a lot that is going on in our country now, a lot to talk and think about the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests and riots. It is understandably stirring up a lot of extreme emotions in people. There are many things we could talk about. I don’t want to try to pretend to tackle the entire subject. I thought that relative to language and communication and feelings that there are some things we can talk about to try and help give people some perspective or some understanding of how others are reacting maybe differently than they are and maybe some of why. What do you think?
It is a big subject, truth, racism, violence, looting. There are a lot of things that go into the experience of the tragic loss of life. Also on top of that, the experience of being in quarantine and the hundred thousand other deaths that we’re seeing. It’s a time of high emotion and high reactivity and a lot of times those expose other loose ends that society hasn’t dealt with. We’ve got a lot to talk about and it’s not something to take lightly, as well as either of us stretching to understand or even experience the full range of what racism means to people that are white, Caucasian, that don’t get that kind of thing coming at us. We can watch it, but when it’s not coming at us, then we’re not necessarily experiencing the level of oppression that takes place and the consistency of it. It happens here. It happens a week later. It happens a month later. It happens daily and it’s always there.
It’s a big topic, Tom. There are a lot of places to go here. Let’s roll up our sleeves and see how we can see what it’s going to take to allow truth to guide us through this because that’s a big part of it. Not truth regarding facts, but it’s the truth regarding empathy and restoration. It’s where the type of truth that needs to be applied here, not truth with violence and then treating violence with violence. There’s a belief that if you give them a ten-year sentence, that’s going to make it go better. The person isn’t looking at numbers, and looking at the reality of it doesn’t matter how long somebody is sentenced, they’re still going to do the thing if you haven’t dealt with the root issue. We’re going to use our adult mind and see if we can apply some wisdom, knowledge and experience to this and see if we can walk ourselves back from the cliff.
We are close to the edge of that cliff. How do we begin to broaden our perspectives on these issues? Does it have to do with something internal to each of us and our experiences or how do we start to get to understand better how people are feeling right now, how they’re reacting and maybe a little bit of why?
The ‘why’ is not a bad question to ask here. Why did the police officer put his knee on the neck of an African-American person on the ground? Why did that take place? Why was he there for so long casually? Why was the other officer standing there? Those are all great why questions and the why the question is a twofold answer but giving the two-fold answer gets me and you into trying to pursue understanding, but we need to pursue empathy. That’s the switch that doesn’t take place because people are trying to rationally understand and trying to figure out and then the rational mind tries to justify. When it starts to justify, you’ve left the diamond on the ground of, “You want to hear the real reason why? It’s because when somebody feels helpless, they try to make somebody else feel helpless.”
You might be thinking, “Bill, that’s left field. What do you mean when somebody feels helpless or if a police officer has felt helpless in the past and was traumatized in their childhood? They had a tragic moment with an African-American in the past and felt helpless about that?” This is an opportunity to transfer helplessness back to another person. It’s unsettling to even talk about this for me.
I think it’s important.The death of George Floyd and the resulting protests and riots are stirring up a lot of extreme emotions. Click To Tweet
It’s a different kind of truth. The truth regarding empathy is that we’ve got to, as a nation, stop transferring pain to each other. One system causes pain in another system and another system causes pain in another system. Where is the pain going to end? It ends up on this guy’s neck. It’s where the pain ends.
It’s very interesting to me, Bill, what you said. I asked the question why, and correct me if I’m wrong, but you said, ‘why’ can either pivot to justifying it, rationalizing it or that ‘why’ can take a path toward empathy. Is that what you said?
That’s right. The ‘why’ empathy is the one that people are not seeing and it’s also the path to peace. You could get the justice that way. It takes a lot of different mindsets to get to justice because our system is set up for justice equals punishment. That’s the way our system is set up. Everybody is ready to have the guy arrested right away and put into jail or further up the chain.
Everybody was calling for the police officer who had his knee on George Floyd’s neck to be charged with murder and then when that happened, they’re saying, “What about the other officers? They should be charged too.” That may very well happen, but there’s a process that takes a little more time. I’m not trying to rationalize or justify why it hasn’t happened yet. That’s not my goal here.
There are reasons, but there’s one form of overreaction. It doesn’t mean that there needs to be another forum of overreaction in the rational mind of the police officers and the things, “This one was an overreaction. We’re not going to overreact.” The only problem with that is the transfer of trauma goes into the environment that says, “You’re not going to overreact. We’re going to overreact.”
Perhaps the District Attorney in Minneapolis is being cautious in saying and I’m making an assumption here, “We’ve got to change these other officers with something. Clearly, they stood by and did not stop this from happening. They’re complicit in many ways, but I’ve got to charge them with the right thing and not overshoot that they end up being acquitted and can’t be charged again.” From a prosecutor’s perspective, he may be thinking, “I got a charge with the right thing. I got to figure out what’s appropriate here and I can’t rush to do that.”
Treat the system fairly, which means that it happens on the street. Usually throw the perpetrator to jail and then figure out what it is. If it was an African-American person, they would have the person in jail for a week without seeing a judge or seeing an attorney until they found out what the charge was. That’s scary honesty. There’s a little bit of real empathy of, if you’re going after the need for fairness and you can detain an African-American person without being charged not just for days or weeks, but months and sometimes years with people that haven’t been charged with a formal crime as if none of those people are in jail now in different States go like, “How could they not arrest that guy? I’m in for something and there’s no formal charge and I haven’t seen a judge for a year.” The system is not cutting evenly. When we look at truth, racism, violence and looting, we’ve got to watch how trauma is being translated and how one version of fairness is not being evenly distributed.
Our Tax Code isn’t fair. How that trauma is coming and hitting the economics of people that are trying to do the right thing and they’re going, like, “Why did they get another set of rules? That doesn’t seem fair.” If we’re not at the core of the value, the emotion’s going to transfer to the next thing, to the next event and the next person. If we have somebody that’s not aware of that, they’ll get in there and start adding more gasoline to the fire. We could do the next episode on the President’s tweets and the lack of empathy and consciousness and awareness that those tweets cause the level of trauma. Many of us early on had enough and we’re waiting for the pivot and we’re looking to be tolerant and then looking for justice and then didn’t find that. “You want justice, looting looks like justice because you’re not allowing the court system to work.” The transference of trauma through emotional expression and tragic ways is a very important path to look at if we want to get the truth to start working for us because right now it’s not.
I hadn’t thought about the prosecutor may be taking their time to make sure they have the right charge before charging the other officers. A lot of people would be arrested on something, put in jail. A lot of times, and I’ve seen this in more financial crime, litigations against a corporate officer where they’ll charge the suspect with one count of mail fraud or something. They get them arrested, be able to do search warrants, start to gather more information, get the person out of the company, maybe arrested and in custody or out on bail or whatever but that’s just the beginning. They look, continue and can add more charges later. They probably could have charged those officers with something to show the public, to communicate, “We hear you. We’re not going to let them get away with it, but more to come on this. There may be more charges to happen but we’re not going to do nothing.”
We’re not going to just do nothing. Something is happening, more charges. When somebody steals money from something or steal something from a store, they get arrested for that. They get caught, get charged and see a court, “You stole this thing.” What happens if somebody opens up another bank account with the person’s name on it and then doesn’t let the person know? That is stealing the cost of that bank account. Does anything happen to that person? They stole that person’s money with that person’s identity. Did anything happen with that? They’re still stealing their money.
Usually, nothing happens immediately. The question is, do they get caught in the long run and does that get the prosecuting attorney or a police department’s attention because it’s not obvious?
How about the manager that oversees a staff that is driving that team to raise their accounts at a bank? How about that manager that is driving the team and watching it take place and. It’s the stand-byer, but also the saying, “If you don’t open up enough accounts, we’re not going to hit our quota and you might lose your job.” How about that person? Let’s charge that person and do that. I’m going down the literal path of Wells Fargo. Not all of them lost their jobs, which is also mind-blowing, “We returned the person’s money.” That was only after you got caught. You weren’t returning the person’s money because you had a moral fortitude. You returned the money because the person got caught. What happens if somebody is stealing a candy bar and getting twelve years for it. It was their third felony and they’re sitting in jail for twelve years for stealing a candy bar. That’s literally what a Texas prosecutor said.
I don’t understand how that’s a felony on its face personally.
There’s one of the trauma points that’s getting transferred and people are a little pissed at how fairness is a value that isn’t being worked. The politicians aren’t getting fairness done because they’re locked in gridlock because fairness for a rich person is different than fairness for a poor person or even now for a middle-class person. There’s not fairness that’s going around here. If I’m angry about fairness, violence seems like a good idea. It’s not fair, therefore I am going to be furious about fairness because angry and aggravated didn’t work so furious is what you’re going to get now.
Peaceful protest at some point didn’t work further back there.
We’ve done peaceful protests with gang violence, school shootings, sexism, #MeToo. Did that slowed down the rhetoric or increase the prosecutions? Nope, not too much.When we look at truth, racism, violence, and looting, we've got to watch how trauma is being translated. Click To Tweet
It raised awareness, but I agree.
Watch what’s happening in your body. There’s a certain amount of numbness and complacency showing up. Don’t worry about it. I feel it too. The numbness and complacency are, “At least it raised awareness.” These people are going like, “Would you like to raise awareness now? How about if we raise awareness now? Because we raised awareness in the past and nothing was done, maybe we need to raise awareness now.” You can see my body’s working itself up right now. I’m generating some adrenaline and cortisol in my body because there’s a physiology that tracks with this. The rational mind doesn’t have a chance with the emotional mind. I prepared a couple of charts to show everybody.
Bill, let’s go through that. This is going to be very helpful.
If I’m furious, I am creating the biology that’s necessary to be furious: adrenaline, cortisol, acetylcholine and norepinephrine. I am jacking my body up because I am freaking furious. The molecules of emotion transfer from cell to cell. Our bodies do not do well from a rational place when we’re in a fight, flight or freeze standpoint. If there is a perceived, real or imagined violent thing that’s happening, our body will tend to overreact to that. We can get worked up at a rally. There’s a moment where thought takes place, “I’m mad at this store for overcharging people. I’m mad at rich people. I’m going to Beverly Hills and trash Rodeo Drive because I’m mad and furious about that.” Our physiology is going like, “If justice isn’t happening and there’s not equanimity that’s showing up, then I am going to act out. I might get caught, but that’s not on my physiological radar screen. I am not interested in talking about the pain that I’m experiencing. I’m going to transfer this pain to others, to have a moment of feeling like I’m getting somewhere.”
It’s not right, just and most certainly not civil, but it’s a way our biology works. It starts simple. It’s like I observe a moment where something happens, “You’re pushing my buttons.” I see a triggering moment comes in and I say, “That wasn’t safe. That wasn’t fair, but that’s not considerate.” If I’m dealing with my emotion at that time, “I’m feeling irritated because the thing was either not considerate or kind or even just, but it was in Atlanta and I live in California. That’s their problem over there. It’s not fully reaching me.” I push it aside. I don’t deal with my irritation because a thing happened in another city or state. I go like, “That’s their thing,” and media is making it bigger. I justify to myself, “Media only does bad news and they just pick this thing and is broadcasting it.” No, they’re not. They’re reporting a fact of something that happened in another state.
A jogger went out and the person’s watching birds and asking somebody to put a dog on a leash because the dog’s a little unruly and chasing the birds that he’s trying to watch. The rule is to put a dog on a leash and she goes, “I’m going to call the police.” It was a black man. The stimulus is taking place in the irritation showing up. The problem though is that the show is about language. It is what do we say to ourselves after that? How do we communicate with another human being that’s saying, “I feel a little irritated and I need some consideration? Would you be willing to put your dog on a leash?” I said it compassionately, “Would you be willing to?” he didn’t use that phrase. He said, “The rule in the park is to have dogs on leashes. Your dog’s running all over the place here.” He might’ve said it that way.
If it was somebody that could hear the truth and was considerate about the rules, then they would say, “My dog is a puppy and a little unruly. This is a chance to get them to run free, but you’re right. I’ll be glad to put the dog on a leash,” and it’s over. No video, zero escalation but that wasn’t what happened. The police officers were driving to go arrest George Floyd because there was a suspected forged check for $20. I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s not a violent moment. It doesn’t need to escalate to violence. It’s very similar to four police officers arriving at Wells Fargo to arrest ten workers who set up these fraudulent accounts and take them out on the sidewalk and put their knee on their neck at the front of Wells Fargo.
Although, I would think perspective and proportion-wise, what those bank officers did was a greater crime than a $20 forged check.
The proportion of fairness and justice here would easily work us up in perspective. I’m trying to use as much restraint as I can right now as I’m explaining this. If I’m sitting with an inherent bias, because the police officers, even though they get biased training, they don’t necessarily get emotional intelligence and emotional sobriety training on how to treat something proportionally. They’re going, “Here’s a person of color. I’m going to treat it this way and this will send a message.” or this is what the level of this thing is. It’s not at that level. I’m thinking of the girl that took something from a dollar store and the police treated it like they were rounding up a serial killer.
It was in Phoenix, Arizona. I remember we mentioned that in a past episode. At one point, they drew guns on this car and scared of these children and I’m sure the adults. It was way out of proportion.
What the brain does is that because of bias and because of trauma patterns is it starts telling a story. It’s already coming preloaded violently. The brain and the body are already pre-loaded in fight response. The triggering moment shows up and whether it’s any one of these three examples, the button of consideration is, and I’m going to be a police officer in a compassionate way, “What’s your name?” “George Floyd.” “There was a report about a $20 check. Do you know anything about this $20 check? Is it real?” Is it a part of the police officer’s job to do that, to ask the person’s questions, to see what happened? No. The police officer is taking the person that’s calling perspective as truth, not listening to the truth of what the suspect is.
Turn this back on the birder. The birder in central park is going like, “Call the police. I have this on video. I think I’m in pretty good shape here.” That person’s perspective is being captured accurately, but to the police officer, hearing her call in, they’re going, “Is this a rape, robbery or murder situation that’s taken place to a white woman?” Their bias has already escalated and they’re coming in looking for violence. Meanwhile, he’s going like, “I got this down. Your crazy, woman. I captured bias on and racism and pulling the race card on my phone. This is going to be great.” They’re not thinking that. They’re thinking, “At least I’m protected, I think.”
I’m sure that the bird watch filming that didn’t have complete confidence that it was going to turn out the way that he hoped it would. He probably had a lot of fear that it could go south in a number of ways.
I’ve got a picture of a person where these thoughts are being generated in the person’s head. The woman that has the dog, she has thoughts on her head. She has some biases and some fears as well as some justifications about the good reason why her dog gets to run in the park. After she got the dog on the leash, the dog was an unmanageable dog. The dog wants some freedom and then getting yanked. Is there animal cruelty that’s showing here next? She was holding him up by the neck. Our animal cruelty laws are more acted upon than violence against African-Americans. There’s a perspective problem here. We have to deal with how do we transfer pain to another person or another animal? The violence we allow through our emotions allow to escalate.
The woman starts thinking, “I’m irritated because this person told me this. It’s not safe. I’m going to call 911.” She causes her feeling called scared. She uses her language that she does to meet the need for protection and the need for safety. She calls 911 and then she’s thinking, “It’s not fair that he’s pointing out that I broke a rule.” How is it not fair for him to point it because you’re breaking the rules? She’s not even falling on the sword of integrity. It’s like, “I might be in the wrong on this.” She starts escalating, gets aggravated and starts choking the dog because she’s scared, irritated and aggravated. She thinks, “I have privileges.” She goes into the respect category. Now she’s angry, aggravated and scared. You can hear all of these emotions in every sentence of her voice. She’s not attached to what’s causing it. She’s assigning it to the African-American that’s filming her. She goes like, “Go and call 911. At least I’ve got a video of this. Officer, let me show you the video.”
That’s a great example because it’s very different from the George Floyd situation in that a life wasn’t lost, thank goodness. We have more of the complete picture to show how all of these emotions showed up and this exchange between the two people devolved into a much darker place than it needed to go.
I’m going to show the similarity to the Floyd thing. All this stuff is not seen, but the call comes in from the cashier thinking this check has been forged or it’s not a good check. The person’s just writing it. The thought in her head is, “Somebody’s stealing something from my store by writing me a bad check.” She calls the police and they’re working themselves up on the way there. They’re irritated, scared, aggravated and angry. By the time they come out of the car, they’re already escalating and all poor George Floyd has to do is say one word of either explanation or defense and they will get furious at that moment. They’re already front-loaded before they get out of the car. You don’t see it. What we see is the extremely disturbing visual of a knee on someone’s neck.
We don’t see that because, at that point, the officer is feeling relieved because they transferred all of those emotions into the knee that is showing up on the neck of a person. They’re taking all of their pain and literally killing someone over it. I’m disturbed even talking about it this way. For those of you who are reading, I am not justifying a darn thing right now. I am not saying that I’m not outraged because I am outraged. This is the anatomy of how people work themselves up about something real or imagined and create horrific moments of pain transference. There have been times Tom, that you and I might have raised our voices at kids that have been too big for the thing that they did. Because the client said this or did this, a situation at work showed up this way and then your kid’s spill some milk and you go, “What?” I have my kids look at me and go, “Overreaction, dad.”There's a certain amount of numbness and complacency showing up. Click To Tweet
Your kids are probably been raised to communicate at a little higher level than the most. I try as a parent not to overreact to certain things like spilled milk. It’s easy to do though.
That is a moment of empathy. It’s easy to overreact when you don’t know what your needs are, how emotions work, how your thoughts are the culprit of this. The thought on top of the thought on top of the thought. The police officer having the thought that, “This is the third call I’ve made to this neighborhood.” I’m making a story up. Whatever the backstory is not a justification, I am not justifying. I am talking about the anatomy of escalation. The button gets pushed and then the human being is pushing their own buttons on the way to a tragic event. What are you thinking, Tom?
It’s not the police officer’s job to go and deescalate the situation and approach it with empathy. It’s their job to make a determination in a split second, “Has a crime occurred here? Has it not?” and then to try and resolve it and decide if they’re going to arrest somebody or not. It’s very black and white thinking.
It’s unsettling that the phrase and the situation is exactly the same, black and white thinking.
I didn’t even realize that I said that.
It’s a duality. Don’t even back off of it. You walked into the trap. It’s that because if that same call comes in from a black neighborhood with a black person calling, is the same level showing up? My thirteen-year-old son said at the morning that had happened, “Dad, this has got to stop.” I go, “What?” He goes “Look,” and he held up his cell phone and he showed me a meme. It’s a video pictorial thing where there was an image of, “Here’s how cops arrested the twelve-year-old boy that shot up an African-American church.” He was in handcuffs and was being walked out. The little boy has got a smile on his face and these white cops are walking him out after he killed eight people.
The second picture was another white person being handcuffed and walked out of a scene after they killed twelve people. The next image shows up, “This is what happened when an African-American is reported to write a bad check and this is how the police treat him.” I’m thinking of the protesters and some memes are showing up, “Here are white protesters with guns at a State House and here’s how the white police officers are treating them.” They’re doing this to disperse the crowd so it doesn’t get big. They’re shooting tear gas into it and this is the way that crowd is dispersed. What would have happened if the police would have had the same level or evenness of, “Here’s this group of people. They’re getting too big and they all have guns?”
There’s definitely a double standard, to say the least.
It is black and white the way he described it. It is in alignment with let’s convert black and white to the off and on the switch of bias. That’s where the tragedy’s taking place. It’s the on and off switch off, “I am already coming in and prejudging a person and already emotionally escalating it.” What am I coming on and seeing in the scene is not really fully? It may look real, but I need to ask a question and/or make a request that is in alignment with the phrase, “Protect and Serve,” but it is cutting both ways. I need to protect and serve every human being in this setting. Notice how difficult that is. That means they’ve needed to be trained in observational skills and they’ve got to train their biases to be set aside. It’s very unsettling.
I would think it’s more the job of a detective who is trying to determine what a situation is and if a crime has been committed. I could see somebody in that role maybe being more empathetic. Police officers and cops on the street are more, to choose a better phrasing, evaluating things for right and wrong.
Let’s take extreme violence since you said it’s easier for a detective to do it. This was tough because this is a true story too. If you learn empathy skills and even if there is a violent thing happening, you better put the right words in the right place. Otherwise, the violence is going to get worse. Let’s take an example so I can show you how police officers may need to be trained in a new way. Somebody that goes through training that’s similar to the training a nurse at a drug and alcohol rehab facility. She’s the nurse at the front desk. She goes through this training and she learns when somebody is escalated, you better use empathy. When somebody is being violent, you got to use empathy. Don’t go into an explanation or problem-solving. Even though you have the right answer, when violence is there, the right answer is not what’s needed. What’s needed is empathy first.
The situation is, she goes to this training the next night and she’s at her post. Usually, there are two people at the front desk. Because there are people that are coming in high on stuff or that are drunk or not in a good shape, they’re looking for some support, a bed to sleep it off. They’re looking for some help, so they show up at the front desk. If there are two people there, they can work off each other in order to provide the person support. At this one time, this one woman is there and the other woman got called away. As soon as the other woman’s away, this person that was high on a substance came in and says, “I need a bed.” As the person is explaining, “Sir, we’re full tonight,” the person then yells at her, “Don’t tell me that you’re full tonight. I need a bed,” jumps over the desk, pulls a knife and now has a knife at the woman’s throat. Tom, will any form of explanation or detective work help her at this moment?
The person is high on a substance and now has a neck to the poor receptionist nurse. What do we say next to deescalate somebody so we save our life? The person remembered the training. The training sounds like this, “Do not explain or tell the person that they’re wrong.” Don’t tell them because if she comes out and says, “I don’t have any beds for you,” the chances of greater violence taking place is more likely. She keeps her mouth shut and then says this following sentence. “You’re angry and you need me to support you to get a bed. Is that correct?” “Yes,” and the message sent is the message now received, “I need a bed. I’m desperate.” “You’re angry and you need me to support you get a bed.” She knows she has no more beds, but it does mean that she’s not going to support him to get a bed. She’ll send him to another facility. She’ll make arrangements for him. She’ll figure out how to warn or get the knife away from him if that’s possible or get some escort to make sure everybody’s safe on the other end because of this person’s struggle. The next sentence is, “I’m guessing it would be helpful if you can get some care and get somebody to help you right now. Is that correct?” “Yes.”
Now all of a sudden, he’s not holding the knife at her throat because this is the person that is hearing her. The next sentence comes out of his mouth going like, “I’ve been to two other places and everyone has turned me down.” Now, we have the backstory of what’s going on in his head, “No one is going to help me. I might die. I might kill somebody else so I don’t die.” This is the level of desperation his head or his trauma is telling him. I am not making his actions right. I am not justifying his actions. You and I are doing the anatomy of how to use language to deescalate conflict, how to use fairness and support and mutual respect evenly across society. We’re doing our best to start the message of how do you use empathy to navigate these violent situations and create understanding and then figure out how we’re going to look at what justice or restoration is going to look like.
This de-escalation is desperately needed.
I appreciate the comparison you made between the police officer and the detective. The detective is not dealing in an escalated situation. It’s a little tougher on the police officer because a part of their mindset is, “I need to figure out where safety and protection are going to serve and protect. Who am I serving and who am I protecting? Are those two things done equally?” For many people’s experience, the answer is no, it’s not done equally. Protect and serve is not an equal sentence for all American citizens. The protests are centered around that. The equanimity and the equality of two very important needs that we have as human beings, protect and serve, and how those two things are translated with a very specific job that these individuals sign up for and go through the academy training in order to protect and serve. What the rules are, how do you create a civil society, how do you arrest somebody, how do you make it safe for others, what do you do when there was a weapon?
Some police officers have empathy training, but I’m not thinking these ones that were standing there pulling poor George Floyd out from the store and walking him out of the way didn’t have that equal thing across their mind. They were transferring other things to his life and then his death. I’m feeling so sad and disheartened about the whole experience. It’s deeply disturbing the loss of one life. You and I have talked about the Coronavirus and me losing my uncle over it. It’s like, “We couldn’t protect ourselves and be civil servants at the highest level?” Losing one life can get the protests going. Losing a hundred thousand, there’s no accountability and reaction other than, “They did a terrible job.” There’s a terrible job that causes a lot of pain and suffering and that moves throughout society. The economics aren’t coming back for a while. I’m not seeing it. “Who wants to buy anything? What do I need it for anyways? Do I have food? Do I have shelter? Do I have a family? Yes. Screw working so hard.”If you learn empathy, you will be able to put the right words in the right place. Click To Tweet
The escalation and the de-escalation of conflict, let’s walk ourselves back down. Before I come out of the police car, I’ve got to back off my overwhelm or furiousness in my personal and professional life. I need to not come into work angry. I need to not be aggravated when I’m with the first call. I need to back off the feeling of scared. I need to get my need for a safety net. I need to get my need for consideration for the environment. I need to de-escalate myself. My emotional load has to come down. I’m coming out of the police car and go like, “We’re starting this at a level three at best. What did the person get called in for? A check? Great. This should be a level three at tops. No violence is taking place here. Getting the person arrested, it’s not necessary. Getting their contact information, it’s probably necessary to see if the check clears or not.” That’s the call instead of allowing our head to take place. It could have been a story we never heard about in a multimillion-dollar trauma throughout our cities.
It is at least with all the damage taking place for sure.
I’m backing this thing off because escalation can happen quickly. Some people are noticing me go up and down the escalation of emotions and the de-escalation of what’s taking place here. Escalation and de-escalation, our body can go up and down quickly. You can feel yourself calm down. Tom, what do we want to leave our audience with? How can we best send them off with a little bit of hope and a little bit of the sense that something different can happen in our society?
The best thing we can do, you and me, admittedly white guys, is help give a little perspective or share something that might help us see things from a different perspective. I want to share something that I saw posted by a friend on Facebook. The quote is attributed to somebody named Molly Mitchell and it says, “Here’s an example of how white privilege sounds.” Immediately within the context of George Floyd and all these protests and riots, it says, “You keep saying it’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property has to stop,” and then it says, “Try saying instead, ‘It’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but killing innocent black men has to stop.’” It’s a mic drop moment. It does give you perspective because at first, you might think the first statement, if that was you or me saying that is a perfectly rational statement. When you hear it flipped, you get some perspective like, “Let’s keep our eye on the ball here, on the lives lost or on the life that’s being lost.”
It’s not just his. Others have already lost their lives over various different situations and circumstances and injuries that have taken place. There’s an empathetic and emotional way to language this so that you can honestly still have the sadness, which I do after learning about justice and fairness. My perception gets to shift to say, “How am I seeing my own bias and how am I applying an uneven code of fairness here?” I need to upgrade my game, my language and my thoughts because I’ve got part of that thing that’s part of the problem and then step into it in a way that is life-serving and more one that’s going to help us move into healing and restoration. There’s more you and I can talk about with this subject, but it’s a good place to stop to give us some hope about changing our perspective and perception about why things are happening in the world.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts that help illustrate what we’re talking about. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate it and I look forward to next time.