Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself by writing a presumptuous summation of the turmoil roiling the streets of suburban St. Louis. After all, it’s been less than a fortnight since the fateful moment when a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. How can I be certain this event and its immediate aftermath will yield historical significance?
Well, I can’t. Yet I’m compelled to look ahead, hoping there is greater meaning in the death, destruction, and despair of today’s news. The future has to be better. So I trust that what’s happening in the street-level conflicts and clashes in Ferguson are the birthing pains of a new American social order, one that will be more inclusive of all voices and not defined exclusively by predominately white political, economic, or military wishes.
Instead, a swelling number of inchoate groups of Americans—disproportionately young, poor, and living in neglected communities—are challenging, confronting, and confounding the status quo. They are demanding to the point of violent protest to have their voices heard and their complaints addressed. This isn’t pretty or comfortable to witness or live through. Yet it is necessary to get us to a higher, better place as a nation.
For more on this idea, please see: