Ghosts of the United States: Will We Ever Find Peace and Love?


So how many protests have you counted in the past week or so? It seems the United States is blowing up right before our eyes. Some people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. And when I say, “It,” I concur that that term likely means something different for every protester. But collectively, I think we can stipulate that every protester and many more who are sitting at home seething with anger but not able to protest are all sick of the way some people are being treated in the United States.

A few years ago, I bought an old fixer-upper house. It’s a solid piece of work sitting in a great neighborhood overlooking a golf course. It’s always a good bet to buy a house near a golf course—you will be guaranteed plenty of open space, and it will always appear spectacular with freshly cut greens and fairways. But there’s something else about this old house that is intriguing. It has a ghost!

About two weeks after I bought the place, I heard someone walk across the kitchen floor, humming a happy tune. The voice was that of a woman. It was nighttime and I had just gone to bed. I cautiously walked into the kitchen. Nobody was there! Everything was peaceful and quiet – like you hope it will be at midnight. But as I walked back to bed, I had that feeling someone was watching me, but I wasn’t scared. I’ve seen ghosts before; they won’t hurt you.

Two nights later, I heard that same pleasant, happy woman humming a tune in my kitchen, walking back and forth. Being an old house, the hardwood floors make an unmistakable creaking sound at the slightest movement. This time, I saw no reason to check it out. I knew who it was, and that ghost was welcome to stay. I didn’t care. You see, after the first incident, I gave it some thought and figured out who the ghost visitor likely was.

The house I bought was previously owned by an old man and woman. The woman had died over ten years before I came along. Her husband lived in the home until he was moved to a care center and his kids sold the house to me. They told me that their mother had loved the house so much; she and her husband had built the house in 1956, and it was her pride and joy. They said she especially loved her roses adorning the exterior of the property, and believe me, there are numerous roses out there. And I love them too!  

Like I said, I’m not afraid of ghosts – spirits as some religious folks put it. They are all around us and, as I mentioned, I’ve seen them before – many times. They don’t scare me, in fact, I kind of like having them around if they don’t make too much noise, and in this case, if they keep the humming and singing to only pleasant, happy tunes!

In some respects, I suppose the above statement is partially false. Let me explain. For some time now, I have been haunted by some ghosts that bother me. Perhaps it’s something akin to the ghost of Christmas past. You remember that story? That ghost took Ebenezer Scrooge on a little journey so he could see all the horrible things from years gone past – things that Ebenezer could have changed but didn’t.

Collectively, as a society, perhaps we are a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge. We’ve committed some huge atrocities against one another over the years, and for the most part, we have not changed our collective behavior! The recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer is another confirmation of that point.

Yeah, the 1960’s human rights marches and protests moved us along and brought about some change in the system, and the Rodney King incident helped install new policies in some police departments, particularly in Los Angeles, and other protests like the ones in St. Louis in 2017, and even in Charlottesville that same year – all those actions and others helped move us along collectively as a society and maybe forced us to treat each other better. But the most recent actions tell us we are not there yet – wherever ‘there’ is. To the point, some Black Lives Matter folks just want black people to be able to move about within society and not be in fear for their lives. But I want more than that!

To explain, let me point out some horrifying truths that were evident the very moment that George Floyd was heard calling his mother’s name as he lay dying. According to the video log of the incident, the police officer had his knee pressed into the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Remember that George was handcuffed and prostrate on the street at that time. And he was having difficulty breathing.

As a side note, it’s my understanding that all police officers – ALL police officers are given specific handcuffing training that includes determining whether or not a subject can breathe properly when in cuffs. According to record, some people suffer breathing difficulties when they’re in cuffs and laying prostrate on the ground. So, officers are trained that when a subject complains of not being able to breath, the arresting officer should immediately do whatever is necessary to assist the subject in regaining their breath, such as moving them into a new position, sitting them up, or helping them to their feet. It’s the humane thing to do, and it’s the right and moral thing to do, as from one human to another.

But to the point – as the police officer had his knee in George’s neck, the other three officers stood there and did nothing. Yeah, it’s reported that one guy came over to Chauvin and suggested that the man was complaining of not being able to breath and maybe they should help him. Chauvin shut his fellow officer down quickly by saying to the effect, “NO, he’s staying right where he is.”

So, here’s an interesting side note – kind of a who’s who in the Minneapolis police department. So, who are the other three guys on scene that day who were recently charged with aiding and abetting a murder? I looked up the information and found it kind of interesting. One guy was working his third shift EVER; he was a newbie and looked to Chauvin as his training officer. Previously, he worked as an asset protection officer in a department store. Another officer was also new; he had been on the force just four days. Previously, he was a bartender. And the last guy had been with the police department since 2012. He had racked up six complaints against him with one complaint still open at the time George died.

All three of those officers, two new guys and one relatively seasoned guy stood there in the street while their peer pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck. Nobody ordered Chauvin off; nobody kicked Chauvin off, nobody said there’s going to be hell to pay if you don’t get off that man so we help him breath! They stood there and watched while their associate killed a man. And now, as I mentioned, they are charged with aiding and abetting a second-degree murder and manslaughter.

To kill a man by not allowing him to breathe while you are pressing your knee into his neck, according to Minnesota law, is second degree murder. For one to commit that level of atrocity on another human requires that he have no compassion whatsoever for the other human being. In fact, let’s just say that that particular police officer detested and hated that human and likely every other human being he interacted with in any way. Those four officers forgot, on the day that George died, the very essence of police work – to serve and to protect.

A few days ago, Minneapolis passed a policy that all police will be required to stop any of their fellow-officers who illegally assaults a citizen or commits an act outside of policy. Is this how far we have come in all these years as a society? Police officers are required to now start policing one another?  It looks that way.

How long will we allow these ghosts from the past to continue to haunt us? Precisely, how long will the memory of George Floyd continue? As seems to be the case, will we all just go back to our old ways in a few weeks or months? Will we, as a collective society, ever truly change? The answer, in my opinion, is yes, it’s possible. But it absolutely will not happen until ALL people can help, serve, and protect one another without being forced by law to do so. It’s called love and charity.

Published by Jeff Hicks

I am a podcaster and author working and living in the Western United States.

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