How Will Society React

Justine

Justine Ruszczyk

 

In Minneapolis, a white, blonde woman, of means was gunned down by a Somali police officer. Let me say this a different way. A woman in a dark alley was recently shot dead by a cop on patrol in south Minneapolis. Or I could say, after making a call to 911, a woman in certain distress approached a responding squad car, and the officer in the passenger side, fired his weapon across his partner through a window, and she died in the alley of a fatal wound. How do the three descriptions differ from each other? One might wonder which context of this absolute tragedy will matter in the outcome.

Here is the truth. We live in a society that places priority on means. In other words, money does play a role in how situations of tragedy are handled. However, there are many other variables in play here. This isn’t about a white police officer gunning down a person of color, without explanation or cause. This is actually about an officer of color ending the life of an attractive blonde woman. Take the blonde out of the story, this is the story of a woman being gunned down for no apparent reason. Either way it is described, there will be no pleasant outcome. We don’t know there wasn’t a reason because both officers in the patrol had their body cams turned off, another variable.

We don’t know the motivation for the gunshot because it was dark, the woman approached the vehicle, there was no dash cam, and apparently no witnesses beyond the officers and the woman. We are as a society asked to appreciate the reasoning and risk, and thereby respect the duress of our police departments when responding to any call, in any circumstance. I was gently reminded of this weeks ago, when writing about the Philando Castile verdict, how an officer is clearly always walking into danger, whether it be a routine traffic stop, or an already identified point of threat. So this commentary is not about our police force and their right or wrong doings.

This commentary is about how our society is going to handle this current crisis. How is social media going to react? What will be the chain of priority when handling this investigation? Does it take more precedent than the string of killings that have occurred on our streets in the last month, not including the twin cities but across the country? How do we decide that one case matters more than countless others? God help us, that we live in a world that the color of our skin creates a definition of what we determine to be important.

The clear fact is that a woman died at the hands of our police force. The truth is no one knows why except for the officers involved and in circumstances of such terrible outcome, in the moment of haste, worry, concern, personal threat, even their hearts were certainly adrenaline driven in the moment. On the surface we can be quite sure there was a lot of tension and panic involved. In the end though, a woman is dead, and another police force is under scrutiny, and the twin cities has become national news.

So, how do we go forward? Some people might pray to help themselves find calm and balance and heal. Some are pragmatic and will return to their lives and this will be a sad afterthought. Some will move out of the neighborhood, change the locks, buy home security systems, take self defense. Some will remain quietly nervous for the rest of their lives.

We as a society need somehow to respond to one another, and recognize this isn’t a race issue, not a gender based issue, not an easily explainable issue. What is true is that a young woman has lost her life and the treasures of her future and her fiance, family and friends are forever altered. We can try to move forward. We can try to find understanding, empathy, and peace throughout the confusion. There is no easy solution, there is only reality, and the acknowledgment of horrific human error.

The Rains Began

Seemed days had passed,

since I’d heard their steady cry,

my rooftop comes alive,

with the steady rains,

 

Oh we do need the tears,

especially in those quiet times,

when our heart has stopped.

 

The beat of our sympathy,

some time lost in the scathing heat,

of a hot sunlight,

meant to persecute our peaceful

sanctuary.

 

I heard the rains begin,

the drops of cleansing cry,

she told me they would arrive.

 

And so I listened,

and could cry for hours afterward.

The Obituary

I wonder how they felt it might read,

summing up their life,

in a nutshell,

passing through all of the bad times,

focus upon the good, the energy, the meaning,

the society we live in deems the necessary truths.

If we knew,

would we then change our mind,

if we could stand in the back of the church,

see the weeping eyes,

the countless expressions of confusion,

would we,

care.

 

I wonder what mine will say today,

as compared to years from now,

which would be more attractive,

the present reality

or that seeming legacy that time forgot,

only the pain did always remain,

a constant,

within even a moment of relief,

there would be the memory of how many times,

we might have,

he might have,

thought differently than to withstand

normalcy.

 

Oh the papers they might read,

and then in a week or two,

there his ashes would be spread.

Sunsets Will Remain

jamaica

While monsters in our midst,

shed sallow contraband upon our mind,

when gathering upon the storm,

seeking shelter beyond the norm,

there is that constant we might recall,

a certain Grace in common language.

for everyone is given cause to learn,

in struggle, sunsets will remain.

 

We fight the crazies by instinct we know,

the candor of survival a goal,

and yet, in the time of forgotten peace,

how quickly do our souls begin to ache,

searching aimless in a cloud of foil,

unsure of ourselves, little left to convince,

the pattern of response becomes reaction,

yet, quite apparently, sunsets will remain.

 

Inside the pretty fashion of calm design,

there instills a certain measure of sanity,

our pulse is drawn within the scope

of humankind, the solace being so kind.

Until the fabric begins to wear, shadows tear

away at the still life photograph of sweet bliss.

We cannot always find a way to piece together

our broken spirit. Yet, sunsets will remain.

 

In the morning, the offer of delight is an energy

we celebrate harmony knowing sunsets will remain.

Mother

A heartbeat.

A cradled affection,

a sense of worry is unconditional,

she will always remember that one time.

 

Oh while the years pass,

many judgments, a currency of opportunity,

an aesthetic realization that depends upon her eyes,

she will always remember that one time.

 

We willingly recall,

the time she managed our innocence

with a sweep of her hand, a tender kiss,

she will always remember that one time.

 

I’m on the bus,

her walking nearby she said later,

yours was  a rather contemplative sadness,

she will always remember that one time.

 

There live the fortunes of time,

when we can respond to favored memory,

while, growing we did become showered in smiles,

she will always remember that one time.

 

And I suppose we all will,

that one time,

when in the throes of our own lifetime,

we did look toward the skies and delight in …

 

mother.

When Thinking the Terrible Things

While our lives are thought to be fragile,

we count on those knowing moments,

when in a sudden sort of sardonic setting,

a cathartic challenge suggests we listen.

 

When ego is put aside, and humility speaks,

such valuable outcomes refresh our mind,

we with certainty begin to better understand,

that vulnerability is meant to make a stand.

 

Glance around the room and wonder the eyes,

what is personality, how do we surmise

the value of this persons gray reminders,

versus the notion of a youthful banter.

 

Where all walks contain a familiar gait,

Our definition of value placed upon a posture,

might the aftermath of judgment call callous

the quiet listener who stands lone in a river.

 

When thinking all of the terrible things,

we forget about those we call the other,

decide upon a direction without a bother,

quite the opposite really, despised clutter.

 

Perhaps if in a notion of sweet forgiveness

Might we all reflect upon love is goodness.

 

 

The Sitting Hours

I always looked forward to the late hours,

the night flying by with dialogue and absurdities,

everything we could say we believed, and more importantly,

we loved,

We did delight in knowing we could look in each other’s eyes,

well into the twilight,

all of us, whoever might have chosen the time,

or simply allowed ourselves to be drawn in,

that was the key,

we knew always we wanted to be there.

 

These are the holidays we would request

each other’s company,

my sister, brothers, and mom,

our sister’s, children and the occasion of relatives …

so current on everything we knew.

to be important in everyone’s lives.

With dad in the background, an occasional chuckle,

he’d pass out the a beverage with endearing blue eyes,

we all heard his screams inside,

the delight of our lives, he is a beautiful man.

 

We were, are, can be the beautiful people,

the family that smiles, tells jokes, lives lives with uncanny candor.

These are the nights when time would value,

only the shared nostalgia of wanting the laughs

in the history of our lives.

These are the holidays when love does always,

compete well with the nature of our own,

sweet recall, when the essence of everything we believed,

in the realm of the human condition,

could suddenly find the energy

to contribute the next line,

so the stories never found a way to end …