I read a commentary several months ago on kindness. It gave me pause to ponder the act of kindness — being friendly, generous, and considerate — being careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others. The piece recognized it as a skill. Some folks come by this ability naturally, while others can be malicious and then all those in between. Most of us recognize the same essential values and show kindness daily.
During COVID-19, parents have been patient, generous, resourceful with creative ingenuity in educating and entertaining their children while we “stay at home.”
Recently, on a ride over Highway 46 to Cambria, we stopped at an outlook to view the Rock in Morro Bay. It was one of the most crystal clear days I can ever remember with a breathtaking view. A van soon pulled up with Mom, Dad and children. They opened the back and began to set up a picnic. A friend was over by the Salinas Riverbed and noticed a Mom with small children with pails and shovels playing in the sand. You don’t have to go to the beach to play in the sand in Atascadero.
We, along with others bike, walk and play ball with our dog at Paloma Park. I see parents playing with their children — tossing the baseball or football, or just racing around in the green openness.
As COVID-19 numbers bounce up nationally, I wonder why some are so angry about the precautions to save lives — shutdowns, masks and social distancing. I applaud the governor for his order to wear masks in public and hope his order and tracing bring the numbers down.
Two million passengers arrived from Europe to NYC between December and March, many carrying the virus. New Yorkers heeded the mayor and governor’s decisive leadership to stay home — cooperation in a democracy standing on the foundation of our rights. Their transmission rate now is the lowest of any state.
Memorial Day outings showed the pent up need to get out. Then on May 26 in Minneapolis, George Floyd, pleading for mercy, was executed in broad daylight by police as bystanders implored for kindness. In June in Atlanta, Rayshard Brook, a father of four, was senselessly and tragically gunned down.
I grew up in the East and looked up to local police officers. The officers always smiled and I knew I was safe. My grandfather was a motorcycle cop and I am proud of his service. Since Vietnam and Nixon, our culture has evolved. The haves and the have nots are farther apart, Republicans and Democrats are polarized. But what has remained consistent is the discrimination of people of color, specifically African-Americans. Their neighborhoods lack good education, access to higher education and the ability to obtain a secure living wage with health care.
Consideration for all Americans has been lost to the profit mentality-economy and a sense of “law and order” not benefiting all of us equally. So when George Floyd was murdered in his community so cavalierly, so callously, the bitterness could no longer be tolerated and set in motion a global human force of justified rebellion; multi-national, all genders, young and old marching for justice for all.
Thousands marched peacefully for change next to police presence. The main job in policing a protest is to protect our rights to protest and de-escalate any threat of violence. Largely, the police did their job, but for some, the demonstrations alone were threatening and we saw scenes on TV of peaceful protesters being assaulted, shot with rubber bullets, tear-gassed and arrested.
Nationally, police serious about safe and protective policing have implemented all #8Can’tWait reforms: 1. Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds; 2. Require De-escalation; 3. Require warning before shooting; 4. Exhaust all other means before shooting; 5. Duty to intervene — requires officers to intervene when they observe another officer(s) using unreasonable force; 6. Ban shooting at moving vehicles; 7. Require use of force continuum-knowledgeable and science-based approach to the use of force; and 8. Require comprehensive reporting of force incidents. The Atascadero Police Department has not banned chokeholds.
A harmony in pubic community discussion could calm the justified rage with change across our nation to specifically address policing and the injustices to our fellow Americans.
Plato said, “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”