|Fri, Oct 24, 2014 08:03 AM
|Issue of October 22, 2014
August 20, 2014 | 09:52 AM
Unless you've been living on a deserted island with no Internet service, there are two events that have captured our attention. Both have many of us seeking answers, wondering why.
Unfortunately, definitive reasons likely will never be known.
The first event occurred Aug. 9 in a suburb of St. Louis when a police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old male.
Do you believe the residents of Ferguson, Mo., will find the answers they seek regarding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown?
However, it isn't that simple.
While we have come a long way since the days of segregation, the color of one's skin often comes into play. And it's being made a factor in Ferguson, Mo., which has a population of about 21,000, with about 70 percent of its residents being African-Americans. Of its 53-member police force, just three officers are black.
So, why did a white police officer, whom superior officers say has a clean record, shoot a black teen in broad daylight on what appears to be a heavily traveled street?
The family of Michael Brown has a right to seek answers as to why their son, who was to enter college this fall to learn the HVAC trade, was fatally shot. Residents of the community also have a right to know the details of what transpired, as does the police department so it can take necessary steps to prevent future tragedies.
But no one has the right to seek these answers through violence and illegal activity, such as looting the stores of innocent business owners, throwing Molotov cocktails and shooting at police. All this does is create more tension and causes resources to be diverted from where they're needed, like completing the investigation of the death of the unarmed 18-year-old and allowing those sworn to protect and serve from doing their job.
Only two people know what transpired during their brief encounter and one of them is dead; the other has gone into reclusion for the time being.
The public needs to allow the judicial system to work as designed: conduct an investigation, submit the findings and proceed as dictated by the findings. Then, if anyone believes justice didn't prevail, they should take peaceful steps to make changes to improve the future, whether it be voting in new government officials whom they think will do a better job as their representative or working to change legislative laws.
That's kind of what some people are doing in response to the second event that's been in the media spotlight.
Robin Williams' death on Aug. 11 left many seeking answers.
The 63-year-old actor-comedian had publicly talked about his addiction to drugs and alcohol, but his fans, including myself, were unaware of the inner demons that eventually led to Williams taking his own life. We only saw the vastly talented man whom many of us first came to know as Mork from Ork and who later appeared to bring us laughter, like in "Mrs. Doubtfire," and to cause us to think, as he did in "Dead Poets Society."
Williams' widow gave us another glimpse at the man many thought could shake off anything with laughter: Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.
But surely that's not reason enough to commit suicide, is it?
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, there are one million people in the United States living with the disease which has no cure. Each year, another 50,000 to 60,000 new cases are diagnosed.
And here's another fact: Everyone reacts differently to their circumstances.
Take another actor, Michael J. Fox, who went public with the news that he had PD. He even created the Michael J. Fox Foundation in hopes of finding a cure for the brain disorder that is the 14th cause of death in this country.
Williams reportedly was a contributor to Fox's foundation. He obviously saw what his fellow actor has done since his diagnosis, which includes his own new comedy show.
Surely, someone as talented and creative as Williams could have done great things for the National Parkinson Foundation and continued to give us hours of entertainment.
So, why didn't he? Only Williams knows that answer.
A twist of two lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," published in December 1854, comes to mind: "Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die."
It's our human nature to ask why, to seek answers, but we also need to remember to do, to act, in a lawful way, that can make a difference before we die. We owe that to Williams and Brown.