This morning I submitted the following letter to my local paper The Daily Progress. In July I wrote a post which expanded on this theme
Protests “erupted” in Charlotte, North Carolina, CNN reported. The protest was in response to the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, but that’s not what caused the violence. “Eruption” seems an apt description. Volcanoes and geysers erupt because the pressure beneath them has built to a level which can no longer be contained. So, too, when violence “erupts.”
In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson wrote::
"Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race."
In the one hundred and forty-one years since, those “ten thousand recollections” have not dimmed, nor have those “new provocations” ceased.
I do not condone violence. Rather, I abhor it. Yet I can understand it. It is not a surprise to me when it erupts. How can it not? All of that heat and pressure has to find an outlet.
Two quotations have been echoing in my mind these last few days. Both are from Malcolm X; both are, I believe, quite relevant.
We are peaceful people, we are loving people. We love everybody who loves us. But we don’t love anybody who doesn’t love us. We’re nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us. But we are not nonviolent with anyone who is violent with us.”