Wednesday 27 May 2020

Thought Picnic: Can we pass the test of character and virtue at a chance encounter?

An irrevocable damage was done
I feel no sense of justice because very little can be righted that was manifestly wrong, if not evil. There have been life-changing consequences for which all the parties involved have become the story of our times.
His name was George Floyd, he was 46, he was black, he had family, he did not resist arrest according to the storekeeper that called the police, he was already subdued and handcuffed, yet, Derek Chauvin, the policeman who knelt on his neck until he expired just lost his job, leaving us seething with rage that such a blatant public murder has not already had the perpetrators and conspirators charged.
Mayor Frey of Minneapolis said, “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.” But we are still handwringing, genuflecting and outraged, a man is dead and there is no Lazarus moment to be expected, George Floyd is gone forever after a chance encounter of hardly 10 minutes with law enforcement.
Having humility when humbled
In New York’s Garden of Eden, the Central Park, Amy Cooper who called the cops on Christian Cooper because he had the audacity to ask her to respect the rules and put her dog on a leash has now lost her job. Her Oscar-winning theatrics of feigning being attacked by an African American what seen for what it was, white privilege deployed to maximum effect to compel a situation where Christian Cooper could have lost his life, if an irrational mob of policemen had attended the scene.
Another chance encounter of hardly 10 minutes again brought to an end many things for Amy Cooper, the loss of her dog companion, the loss of her high profile job at Franklin Templeton, and the loss of many other significant things to do with her person, her status, her standing and probably her relationships.
The unpredictability of chance encounters
It is scary how chance encounters can change a life or bring about the loss of life. The many unscripted, inadvertent, and unintended situations that bring us before strangers of whom we know nothing but in the unfortunate majesty of time, moment and place can in short order our carefully ordered lives.
Nothing prepares us for the outcomes, but we must be prepared in character, in virtue, in humanity, and in consideration to do no harm, bring no hurt, attend to heal, flee from a threat, assess the situation in the mind and heart of the other to treat our momentary neighbour with respect and courtesy just as we would like to be treated.
If only the police in Minneapolis had given just that little consideration to the humanity of George Floyd, he would still be alive, the four policemen would still have their jobs, the community would be at peace and life will go on as usual. Maybe not the best, but better than the situation right now.
Amy Cooper was in a public place violating the rule to keep her dog on a leash. She was informed by a stranger to follow the rules. She could have apologised, put her dog on a leash and walked away. She did not have to stand her ground or prove a point. The simple recognition in humility of her being in the wrong and the act of contrition of doing the right thing would have saved her from the heap of global opprobrium.
Having the presence of a sense of responsibility
She was however deficient in capacity just like the four policemen of the temperament, wherewithal, and facility to deal with random strangers in chance encounters, knowing you that you have opportunity, power, and privilege that could be abused, whilst have a mind of understanding the responsibility that comes with it is redolent of a strong character ready to exercise the characteristics of emotional intelligence and the consideration of others.
The absence of a sense of responsibility will eventually catch you out and it is rarely in familiar settings, but in these chance encounters where some hand of fate tests your mettle, your humanity, your reasonableness, and your ability to handle unexpected situations without losing your head.
A brutally objective test
The test is usually brutal and the life lessons when that test is failed can to so consequential that Karma is running a far second to when retribution and punishment have breasted the tape on your behalf and in your name. You cannot pass a test that requires the study in preparedness on every topic in the syllabus of character and virtue, because it adaptively examines your weakest points.
If anything, our greatest prayer should be that in whatever random situation we find ourselves in chance encounters with strangers, that we are not found wanting and the experience would enrich the lives of all concerned.
What would be the aftermath the Amy Cooper or George Floyd situation, I cannot tell. For George Floyd, may his soul rest in peace and some justice be found for his brutal and untimely death at the hands of law enforcement. For Amy Cooper, I wrote a ditty, she will live if she wants to and she has the opportunity to change her life for the better. Whether she has the capacity to weather the storm depends on what wholesome relationships she has cultivated before now.
Oh dear, it's Amy Cooper,
She did wrong to Christian Cooper,
Now her embarrassing blooper,
Is dog shit without a scooper,
She thought white was really super,
Called the cops on him like a trooper,
Now lost her job, what a whooper,
Please, don't be like Amy Cooper.

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