On the Lesson of Ferguson

With the onslaught of opinions and diatribes online and on screen throughout the Ferguson ordeal, from the cataclysmic moment when that teenager dropped lifeless onto a darkened Missouri street, to the final absolution for the police officer who put him there, with all of the media madness and racist rhetoric and violent venting that occurred in between, the ubiquitous question has always been -- what has this been for?

We've asked this collectively as a country, intimately of ourselves, accusingly of one another. We have a deep need to know why. We need for there to be a reason, some higher purpose that will explain to us how a series of events so random and chaotic and ultimately fatal could have happened amongst us, to us. We're trying to make sense of something so senseless so that we can rest comfortably again in our belief that we are not only a nation but also a species of orderly, civilized beings. We think that if we can take something away from what happened in Ferguson, something that's good and helpful and that will give us hope, then the horror that happened there can be redeemed.

All along we have been divided. Divided by race, divided by reason, divided in our blame and in our support. We're divided-minded, fragmented along lines of race and culture and economic stature. The division between us is as deep a fissure as is the San Andreas fault and what's been happening in Missouri has only widened the split. We've betrayed our own name.

We're looking for an answer, a way to succinctly wrap up this entire mess so that we can move forward in our frantic daily lives feeling like because we understand it, it won't really bother us anymore. We get it, so we can be free from it now, we don't have to look at it or think about it anymore. With regard to Ferguson it's just not that black and white. We desperately want there to be a lesson we can learn and that's understandable, we do not want to witness another tragedy like this. But we also want to have learned something so that we can go back to believing we are better than this, above hatred and prejudice and bloodlust and revenge, that the kindness in our nature always triumphs over it's mistakes.

Maybe the lesson has been to teach us how much it hurts to be apart. Maybe we are being taught how to come together. We always seem to learn best through repetition, but it doesn't have to be that way.