How can we bring positive change to Ferguson and St. Louis? Good question. Shall we go beyond the implementation of review boards, on-body cameras, federal oversight, sensitivity training, positive police/community integration, and political, legislative and departmental changes? Whew, that was a lot. Well, if we choose to go beyond those important and necessary tangibles, we will find ourselves at the bigger issue: us.
A socially transformative approach is what seems to be missing from the dialogue. How long will we continue focusing on the external problems while neglecting the internal ones? How long will we continue to blame others while refusing to take responsibility for our own actions, both great and small? We live in a psychophysical world, meaning that, yes, there is a tangible, real world out there. However, the way the world operates is dictated largely by your psychological state.
Upgrading laws and policies while neglecting to upgrade the individual is futile. Let me emphasize the point: If a police officer or department embodies systemic hatred for a certain demographic, there are no decrees that can be written to prevent that officer/department from carrying out biased policing towards that particular group. The opposite is also true. If a particular group maintains a systemic disposition of hatred, fear and mistrust for a police officer or department, then conflict will be inevitable.
Can there ever be a peaceful outcome unless we abandon these ideas? No. But how do we abandon these ideas? Is it even possible? Yes, and to do so we have to realize who we really are. This isn't a philosophical quandary. Literally ask yourself: Who am I?
Are you a protester, are you a policeman, are you black, white? Whoever you are, the truth has been taught to you. It is not original to you. Yet you endorse, embrace, live for, kill for and die for these labels. These labels have no fixed reality, and every label that you identify with only serves to divide you further away from your fellow man. This is the epicenter of all human conflict.
Figure out who you are. Yes, you, reading this. I don't care if you think you're black, white, ghetto, suburban, civilian or policeman; we are all human at the end of the day. Beyond human form, we are spiritual beings. Stop identifying with the costume that you wear, and recognize your true self. This is how you fix not only Ferguson, but also humankind itself.
About this project: Riverfront Times asked a diverse group of contributors — policemen, rappers, shop owners, clergy — to tell our readers where they see solutions to the region's deep-rooted troubles. It's part of our #FergusonNext collaboration, in partnership with the Guardian's "US Opinion," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial page, the St. Louis American, Ebony.com and Colorlines. Go to www.fergusonnext.com to see what our partners are doing and to join us in our attempt to answer the question, "No justice, no peace — what now?"