Hey, we need jobs. The mayor of the city of St. Louis sent an aid to the site where a 25 year old man brandishing a knife at police was shot and the young men hanging around there said: we need some jobs. So he offered them job training and signed up a bunch of young men right there at the scene. I’m going to take this as a sign for things to come, a clue that something good can come out of this terrible chapter in America’s history.
But why did that man have to die? I would have thrown a bucket at him and jumped him. Look at the video. That man did not have to die. Everybody is tense here. The mayor of St. Louis has the benefit of mistakes made before him he practiced transparency and the police chief was better trained and they all made the case for shooting. It’s only four miles from Ferguson.
The thing about Ferguson is of course it’s America. One America. We’ve been forgetting that for a long time now. We’ve been safe in Two Americas. One America now. This may be the enduring legacy of this shameful, tragic chapter.
Because Ferguson is a nice little town. I know a bunch of people who live there. Of course there are two Fergusons also. I wonder: does everybody get that, watching the events on television, popping corn?
Ferguson has a Target. And a Schnuck’s. And a kind of Target plaza or whatever the hell you call it you know standard sandy brown strip mall construction with a Gigantic parking lot.
In the Target is a Starbuck’s. Now there is not an urban environment on earth that is in social collapse that has a Starbuck’s. I grew up in Detroit. I guarantee if there was an equivalent event in Detroit these days it would not be in a neighborhood that has a Starbuck’s.
But Ferguson is not really urban. It’s down in the mouth suburban. The city of St. Louis encroached onto Ferguson and brought all the attendant problems of urban life. It’s a story of race, race and class, as are so many of our stories.
Race and class. We need a job. We need a living wage. We need to be known. We need to be listened to, We need to be heard. We need to be treated with respect. We are America too, one America, hey we want some America too.
Hold on. There’s a guy on television that says he’s a physician and an attorney. And he’s advertising as “a semi-truck lawyer.” I couldn’t make this stuff up. Plus his name is poetic, it’s almost the same first name, last name. Dickens! Are you listening? You would love this. Nabakov. Vonnegut. David Foster Wallace. You guys must be cracking up. Semi-truck lawyer. He wants clients who got hit by trucks.
Anyway, tonight I marched with a line of clergy to the County government center to ask the Prosecutor to recuse himself. Love this language. So Franz and Fyodor. They would be laughing too except they didn’t laugh though they totally got irony got everything they just didn’t laugh. Too serious too sad.
We marched to the County Government Center. In addition to the Prosecutor’s office the jailhouse is there. I do a prison project and visit the jailhouse right there every Wednesday afternoon. I couldn’t go today. They closed it up tight to outsiders. There I was on the street right under the side with the obscured windows. I know the prisoners are up above.
That’s another side of this story. Up above as as we stood hollering on the street are the forgotten ones who have fallen out of the system entirely, hidden away behind those windows. I’m down below thinking about them up above, wondering if they’re watching us. Hey there’s the rabbi! He’s preaching!
Well I wasn’t preaching, I was praying for peace. Up above the angels behind the windows received my prayers and relayed them straight to heaven. People think there’s a hardening of the hearts out here, they should only know what happens up there.
Tonight I made a prayer at the march, and it seems as if the Prosecutor and the Governor are at war and well — who needs that mess. This is too important. Why not let someone else do it? Maybe that physician and lawyer on television I just saw. He’s so qualified for everything.
I think qualified people should do what they know. I can’t stand it when CNN is trying the case on television, though I have to admit that Lawrence O’Donnell just dissembled entirely the New York Times reportage on MSNBC and he’s not even chasing anybody around the streets of Ferguson. He’s sitting there behind a desk thinking. I kind of like that. Everybody else; let the qualified people try the case.
On the other hand, if you’re quiet and sensitive and deliberative, you can figure some things out. I mean the long term systemic social adjustments we will have to make to become one America. We can figure that out together.
Heck the top law enforcement official in the country came to Ferguson today to meet the family of Mike Brown and hug the Highway Patrol. That was beautiful.
I can’t think so big because what I call my mind has limitations when it comes to organizing the Universe so I have to keep it simple. This is what I’m going to do, I swear, I’m taking an oath.
I don’t go out much. I don’t go out to dinner and all that stuff, don’t go shopping, etc. (except grocery stores), my perfect day is the coffee house and the library reading and writing but from now on when I do go out, I’m going to Ferguson. People are always asking to meet with me and I’m not a sit behind the desk kind of guy so I meet people in coffee houses and such. If people want to meet with me, I’ll be at that Starbuck’s in Ferguson (as soon as the French video team departs, they leave their junk everywhere and wear a fragrance that makes me gag).
When my beloved wants to go out to dinner, or lunch, or maybe even an occasional breakfast, we’re going to Ferguson. I was there in the daytime yesterday and there are plenty of restaurants in Ferguson. I’ll go to those places and I’ll get to know the other people who go there too.
Getting to know people there. I’m taking a vow to do that. This is a harder one. I’m a shy person. I score introvert on that test I’m sorry I took, the one with the boxes. The mother of Mike Brown works at a store where I shop for groceries, I found out that she worked there and I go there a couple of times a week and I don’t know her. There is so much wrong with that.
I wonder how this loss will change her life so I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to know her in the future, but I will never again make a shop twice a week anywhere, take my laundry in, go to a coffee shop, use the library, without knowing the people who are working there, helping me, living with me in my world. One world. One America. This is what I’m going to do, I swear.
It’s small, but it’s do-able. And I think if we can help Ferguson, we can help all of it. Ferguson is a microcosm, the nature of the microcosm is that people learn from it. Also there’s always some mysticism between the microcosm and the macrocosm, what happens in one instance impacts Everything. What if Ferguson became the almost perfect garden. Why not Detroit?