Good & Evil

We all know terrorists are evil. We know they are full of hate. We know they commit acts of barbarism. And, most importantly, we know we are not like them. Their actions are senseless, we are sensible. Their ideology is primitive, we are civilized.
"Every historical change creates it's own mythology." - Bronislaw Malinowski, Myth in Primitive Psychology (1926)
Back in 1864 over 700 U.S. soldiers attacked an Indian camp and slaughtered nearly every man, woman and child in it. The soldiers scalped the women and children, many were mutilated, and the genitals of men and women were cut off and used as trophies.  In earlier wars with similar atrocities, Andrew Jackson instituted a policy where the noses of the vanquished were cut off to tally the dead. Jackson was promoted and lead the Seminole Wars to capture land and recapture runaway slaves. He became a national hero and his face is on our twenty-dollar bill today. The remaining Native Americans live on reservations.

There are many things that seem senseless to the sensible. But we are not always sensible. Sometimes we are senseless. Sometimes we are evil.
"Seldom does anyone admit that he is evil; seldom does he even admit that he does evil. One of the great dangers of humanity is our tendency to project our own evil onto others." - Jeffrey Burton Russell, Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (1987)
It is said that even the Devil has convinced himself he is doing the right thing. The terrorists have convinced themselves they are doing the right thing. We have convinced ourselves we are doing the right thing.

Evil doesn't happen in a vacuum. In America our response is retaliation, retribution; wage wars (more than any other nation on earth) and incarcerate (more than any other nation on earth). We pick off the thorns while the roots grow deeper. We don't confront evil, we try to erase it. But evil is inside everyone - with enough provocation or indoctrination we are all capable of it - so the only way to erase it is to erase all life. By fighting evil we become evil.
"Evil is life turning against itself." - Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973)
So, how do you defeat evil? You don't. We beat the Nazis but their ideology never went away and is currently making a big resurgence. The KKK has never left us and is growing again today. Islamic terrorism will always be here too. So, what do you do? You look inward and find your inner-strength.
"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." - Jesus
America is the richest, most powerful nation on earth. We can lead by example. We can stop being afraid and start being strong, being better. Defeat evil by being good. Turn toward life. Instead of retribution and retaliation use rehabilitation and humanitarianism. Instead of violence use benevolence. There will still be evil but there will no longer be fertile ground for it to grow.
Step outside. It's a beautiful day.
Now, look inside. What do you see?

EDIT: I've corrected an error in the timeline of my history of the Sand Creek Massacre which was pointed out by a commenter. 

Do Not Respect Authority

Back when I was a teen I was one of the "weird kids" that hung out with other "weird kids" in a small rural area. I was pulled over regularly and asked what I was up to. One time I got a speeding ticket even though I wasn't speeding. My friend that was in the car with me had his father - who worked for a law firm recreating accident scenes - prove in traffic court that it was actually physically impossibly for my car to have been going the speed the cop said he clocked me at (I was on a steep uphill road with lots of turns and a stop sign at the end, and driving a crappy car). We had video, charts, definitive proof the cop was lying. The judge stated that while I may not have been going the speed the cop said he clocked me at, I still could have technically been speeding and so found me guilty anyway.

While this "injustice" I suffered is minuscule in terms of what has been in the news lately, it was a clear message I was fortunate to learn at a young age: The justice system is not about justice, it's about authority. That's why these cops are protesting Mayor DiBlasio, protesting community criticism of police practices, protesting all question of their righteous authority. They're not getting the respect their authoritarian ideology deserves.

Police turning their backs on NYC mayor during a funeral.

Any deviation is a threat to the system from my black clothes and long hair (as a teen) to being black with nappy hair (the ultimate offense, and one that cannot be reformed by getting a new wardrobe and a haircut) they will make sure you know your kind isn't welcome in their world. You are a threat to the system.

After my traffic court trial, my mother, still believing in a just system, told me I should go to the police officer and tell him "thank you" for doing his dangerous job. I didn't want to, but still did, and did it with proper respect. He didn't even look at me and acted like I didn't exist when I spoke to him. My mother was shocked. I understood. I challenged his authority, I lost, now I needed to get lost.

ATF Flag raised above the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX.
Around that time I saw video of the LAPD beating Rodney Kind and the AFT raising their flag over the burning embers of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas. The message sunk in. It's not about enforcing the law, it's about enforcing dominion. It's not the water cannons of the 1960's but it's the daily trials that lead Eric Garner to exclaim, "I told you the last time, please just leave me alone."

What DiBlasio said to his black son needs to be taught to all children regardless of race. The police are not here to protect us, they are here to protect the system from us. If you believe the system works for you, you feel safe. But things change

You may not always be on the right side of the system.

The recent NYPD "slow down" exposes the true purpose of policing as it is currently used in our country. Apparently most policing is unnecessary. They are just to keep the little people in check. Don't get out of line. I could go on with so many more stories of my own experiences (and I've never actually been arrested, just had the misfortune of being around police) but in short it all boils down to every interaction I've ever had with a cop was not a good one. The closest I can say to a "good one" was being pulled over for speeding two years ago and the cop just gave me a warning. But that time I was speeding… I did break the law. So, he just let a law breaker go because now days I'm a "respectable" looking person, not a threat. What does that say about our system? It's OK for one type of person to commit crimes. It's unacceptable for other types to even exist.