Watching the scenes from Ferguson Missouri is about so much more than police brutality vs. the right to demonstrate in a public forum.
It is about unresolved issues in our country that are as old as the first slave ship that came ashore so many years ago.
We cannot just look at the shooting of a young man and spend our time deciding who was right and who was wrong and close the book on another sad day in America.
Are we asking the right questions?
What are the seething emotions that lead to looting? What are the underlying assumptions of those we want to put our trust in to keep the peace?
At times like this there is a question about how much we have advanced from the Civil War era.
There is such a thing as positive entitlement and negative entitlement. How do we factor the deeper psychological issues at play, how do we factor the high energy of stress in the midst of fear that leads each of us to react without the ability to think through the consequences of a situation.
And at the heart of the issue is the power we give to guns.
They themselves do not cause the damage. They have no power until they are in the hands of someone who decides to pull the trigger or not.
How are we ever to move to a more creative, more cooperative society if we stay in the old model of power that says I am stronger than you, I have the gun and can pull the trigger?
Those with guns see this as positive entitlement to lord over others.
Those without the guns use negative entitlement to loot and take. The mindset here is one of disenfranchisement and the desire is to get something, somehow, any way possible.
In my book “UNIQUE: How Story Sparks Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement” there is a way for each individual to do their “SANKOFA MAP.”
SANKOFA is a word from Ghana that means “heal the past to free the present.” Once we can look at the levels of negative or positive entitlement from a long tail view we can begin the dialogue that goes back, way back, generations back, to understand and transform the conflict of race relations in this country from a new perspective.
It takes a powerful and committed leader to help us go to the source of the hurt and anger rather than just look at what is happening in the heartland of our country from a narrow perspective.