A man attempts to stop protesters from engaging with police in riot gear in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters after police attempted to clear the street in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several protesters were arrested. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
A man attempts to stop protesters from engaging with police in riot gear in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters after police attempted to clear the street in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several protesters were arrested. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

I’ve started writing this article several times. I’ve probably written close to 3000 carefully sourced words that always devolve into a tirade against the irrational behavior of both the police and Black Lives Matter. There is so much to say on this subject, but all of the statistics in the world won’t convince Black Lives Matter that their movement is counter productive and based on a lie, or convince the Police that their job is not hard or dangerous or even particularly necessary. Maybe I will post one or more of those pieces eventually, but that isn’t what I want to focus on right now.
We’ve all head an emotional couple of weeks. It is time to take a deep breath and realize that the world is a wonderful place, and getting better all the time. There has never in human history been a better time to be alive. Because of the rise of the Internet and social media, we are very aware of the pain and violence of the human condition. We readily identify with victims wherever we see them, but most of the time they aren’t us. Most of the time they are hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

The victim mindset is so ingrained in our culture that we ignore how lucky we are to live in this world at this time. A couple hundred years ago we had slavery. Violence was commonplace, as well as starvation. During WWI, our great grandparents faced gas attacks and ate rats to survive. Our grandparents stormed the beaches at Normandy, running head on into artillery, machine gun and sniper fire. During the Great Depression people lived in a state of poverty that would be unthinkable to your average welfare recipient today. When Martin Luther King was protesting in the streets it was because black people were having cigars put out on them by white people for sitting in the wrong place.

Today our problems are tiny in comparison, and we are weak. We latch onto a narrative and ignore all facts to the contrary. We tell ourselves that the world is out to get us. We pat ourselves on the back and self aggrandize every small achievement, while blaming others for every failure. We convince ourselves that our lives are worse than all others. We used to compete with each other for greatness, but now it is a competition for who can be the most pitiful. We are running a race to the bottom.

The fallout from Dallas and the police shootings that preceded it is painfully obvious. The hierarchy of Black Lives Matter will condemn the shootings, and claim that killing cops has nothing to do with their movement. Individuals, however, will be emboldened. We will see a series of copycat killings and an escalation of violence against the police. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see violence at the political conventions.

Police are already terrified, in spite of the extreme rarity of violent police deaths. They will use the tensions with BLM to justify inflated budgets and more military gadgets. Even small towns already demand armored vehicles and SWAT teams. I expect to see them carrying riot gear and rifles on a regular basis. As the fear of the public intensifies and isolated attacks continue, the police will do what they do best. They will escalate, rather than deescalate the situation.

Frightened people are dangerous, and quick to turn violent. The police, terrified of the public, will shoot more people. Black Lives Matter, terrified of the police, will lash out. This positive feedback loop will continue until it either reaches a breaking point and martial law is declared, or we have a miraculous return to sanity. Surprisingly, my money is on the later.

I think that most people are becoming aware of the danger in maintaining a victim mindset. We need to recognize police violence for what it is: a tragic and preventable, but very small problem. Less than 1000 people were killed by police last year. While that may seem like a lot, we live in a country of 320 million. You are 250 times more likely to be killed by a doctor making a mistake, like not washing hands or placing a decimal point in the wrong spot when prescribing medication. Police need to realize that they have chosen to place the safety of the public ahead of their own. That includes the safety of the people they are arresting.

Our ancestors dared greatly. They did amazing things, and never wallowed in self pity. We can only be great as a society if we are great as individuals. Be happy. Feel lucky. Imagine a better world, and your place in it. Take risks. Stop being afraid.