Monday, April 27, 2015

Break a Window or Make Stained Glass

The Holy City, by Louis Comfort , 1905, Tiffany stained glass window, Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Image is in the public domain, full citation below in the credits.

Greetings All:

As I write this, (April 29th, early morning hours) Baltimore burns.  Police officers are hurt, some seriously.  Family members are sitting in a hospital waiting room, drinking cold coffee because it beats the alternative of doing nothing.  They wait, wait for word from a doctor, nurse, anyone that their loved' one is OK.  They stare down a hallway of the hospital, waiting, hoping, pleading for someone to come and tell them that news.

The hallway is empty.  No one comes.

Across town, a different scene, yet the same emotions are present, pain and grief.  A young man has died.  A young man of color.  A rap sheet, yes, he had one.  Yet he also had a future.  Now, all that remains is his past.  He has a family, and they mourn.  No matter what he did, how is it he died in custody?  How?

Others are filled with rage.  Yet another young man of color has died.  Yet another funeral for someone who many believe, are convinced, his death came to pass because of his pigment.  They see a world of profound injustice.  They feel the stares from those who hastily cross the street rather than pass them on the sidewalk.

"I'm just going to school," is their response.  They don't say it at loud.  But they scream it in their heads.

And Baltimore continues to burn.

I wrote last night about something that brought joy to me, seeing theater.  I wanted to do a string of blog posts about fun stuff, things that cause us to laugh.  Yet tonight there is Baltimore.  

So where do we go from here?

Perhaps there is some wisdom in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  My friend Jeremy posted this on Facebook a short while ago and I think it sums up how many of us are feeling:

From Facebook, quote attributed to Dr. King, fair use/pubic domain claimed,
 As I try (often failing miserably) to keep my blog posts short, I am going to not reiterate the various news reports out there.  I am confident you all are sadly all aware of what is unfolding in Baltimore.  I've got two cites below to two news sources and by tomorrow, there will be many more.  I hope the sunrise brings better news.  

My hope is tempered.

I cannot speak to being discriminated.  If anything, I'm on the other side of that line.  I am a white, straight, male, Christian (albeit adrive-thru Catholic) who is an attorney and Army Reserve officer.  Outside of the upper east-side of Manhattan or the Hamptons, I'm pretty much at the top of the food chain.  All my interactions with law enforcement have been cordial.  On some occasions, I have called them as witnesses for cases I have prosecuted.  

So I suppose it is easy for me to wag my figure at the protesters.  Please, let me be clear and let me be specific:  I support peaceful protest.  It is a right enshrined in our Constitution.  Yet a protest becomes a crime when a rock is thrown thru a window, when violence ensues. 

Breaking glass is not part of the public discourse, it is abrupt halt of it.  When people hate, succumb to violence, as Dr. King stated, in the quote above: "It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible."

It is always easier to break a window than to make stained glass.  Creating something takes time, requires effort, demands sacrifice.  Stained glass, when done, offers not just a way for light to enter a room, but to give that place an illumination that celebrates life.  

Isn't that worth the effort?  I think so.

So I hope those in Baltimore (and across our nation) will stop breaking windows (both metaphorically and literally) and start making stained glass.  I hope that everyone in Baltimore will help in this endeavor.  After all, the window that is in the photo above took many hands to make.  What a wonderful window it is.

And the more we work together, the grander that stained glass can be for us all to enjoy.  Then the light of peace can stream in and drive away the darkness of violence.

Be well my friends and peace to all in Baltimore.


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