“Can we all just get along?”
Those poignant words were spoken by Rodney King more than 25 years ago.
King was badly beaten by Los Angeles police after leading them on a high-speed chase. Those officers were charged with crimes for their actions but when they were acquitted by a jury, riots broke out in Los Angeles and other cities.
Dismayed by the destruction he was seeing around him, a shaken King held a press conference during which he asked why Americans were at odds with each other.
Whatever differences and divisions were evident back on that day in 1992 seem mild compared to 2020 America.
Rioting has occurred in just about every major city you can think of — including Salt Lake — as America’s police are increasingly caught on video killing and injuring Black people.
What happened to King at the hands of Los Angeles police doesn’t quite measure up in terms of maliciousness compared to what’s happened in recent weeks to Black Americans, starting with the sadistic knee-on-throat killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by one of that city’s cops.
There’s been a lot of talk about racial relations in America — specifically the relationship between the nation’s Black people and the police — since the beating of King.
The events of recent weeks and even recent years should tell all of us that whatever our nation has tried to do to improve this relationship has not worked.
It’s a sad and disappointing situation because there have been plenty of government programs directed at alleviating the problem, plenty of honest efforts by Black people and the police to improve the status quo, as well as plenty of media attention, but literally none of it has made the situation any better.
The current state of affairs has many Americans, especially Black Americans, believing all police are bad, while white Americans are being branded as racists for allowing this unhealed wound between Black Americans and the police to continually go from bad to worse.
As American cities are rocked by nightly unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic hammers our economy, our adversaries in other parts of the world — namely China, Russia, North Korea and Iran — are without a doubt smiling.
Because it’s not Russian or Chinese tanks or North Korean or Iranian nukes that are bringing our nation down; it’s Americans themselves and our inability to unite on any level to solve any of our nation’s woes that is proving to be the cancer threatening our country.
It’s never been more apparent that Americans are losing the ability to peacefully coexist with each other. It’s never been more true that Americans look at their fellow citizens who hold different political and/or moral beliefs as the enemy. It’s never been more evident that compromising on any of the things we believe in so that our nation can emerge from any of the recent unrest a more united place is something too many of us are simply unwilling to do.
The survival of our nation seems to be at stake and instead of sorting it out we’re more interested in rioting, looting stores, tearing down statues, buying guns, rolling coal and vilifying whatever half of the country we see as the problem.
There have been difficult challenges to our nation’s survival before. The Civil War and World War II come to mind.
The current unrest if left unresolved is destined to become an equal threat and how all of us respond to it is going to determine the fate of our nation.
We can rise to the occasion like past Americans have when our nation’s back has been against the wall or we can let our nation’s greatness slip away. And maybe our nation itself will slip away.
Our country is truly being tested and how we all respond is going to make as big of a difference as how Americans responded during prior threats to the survival of our republic.
What we all do next is hugely important and we would recommend more effort be put toward finding a middle ground with each other and understanding each other than in setting more police cars on fire or converging on state capitols armed with assault rifles.
Americans need to figure out why we all can’t just get along and dig deep for the solution rather than continuing to push our divisions past the point of no return.
Our future depends on it.