November 25, 2014 | Posted in General
As I sat watching masked rioters set fire to a building and smash the window out of a cop car in the wake of “The Non-Verdict” in Ferguson, MO a few thoughts tumbled out of my mind and I started thinking about how so much of life is a game of “connect-a-dots” and that the picture cannot be completed until we go back and start at the beginning, connecting a maze of events that might appear to be random in their positioning, but when the picture becomes more distinct, one can see, if viewed from a distance and not close up that not only does “everything happen for a reason” but also choices create consequences, and depending on where those choices come from we either learn the lesson offered…or not.
Michael Brown had graduated eight days before his death, from an “alternative education program.” While not a very good student, his teachers said that he was a “gentle giant” at 6’4 and 292 pounds and while he loomed large at the age of 18, “he didn’t cause any trouble.” He was scheduled to start classes at a trade college two days after he was killed on August 9th.
Darren Dean Wilson first worked as a police officer in the town of Jennings, MO but the department was in such disarray that it was disbanded. He took a job with the Ferguson Police Department and at the time of the shooting, Wilson was 28, ten years older than Brown, fellow officers described the also 6’4 Wilson as “an average officer” who “didn’t cause any trouble.”
However the connect-a-dots caused nothing but trouble.
For reasons that will never be known, Mike Brown decided to steal a $48 dollar box of cigars from a local store, his theft caught by security cameras. Officer Wilson responded to the call from dispatch and after sighting two suspects that fit the description he called for back up officers. At some point a struggle between Brown and Wilson took place through the window of the police SUV and two shots were fired, one striking Mike Brown in the arm and the other embedding itself in the door, Brown and his “partner” Dorian Johnson then fled behind a parked car. Wilson exited his SUV and at some point Mike Brown moved towards the officer who felt his life was in danger, fired a dozen shots, six of which hit Mike Brown.
Ninety seconds from the time Michael Brown and Darren Wilson crossed paths, Brown was dead in the street. The details of this event can be found all over the internet, they will be debated until the next shooting and this case is brought up, along with Trayyon Martin and others that are on file.
But those dots…
Two months before his death, Mike called his father at 1 am, deeply disturbed by something he saw in the clouds from a passing storm. “Dad, I saw an angel in the clouds man, and Satan was chasing the angel and it ran into the face of God!” Mike tried to convinced his father and stepmother that what he had seen was real when they laughed off his vision. Mike sent a cellphone picture of what he had seen to his father and said “Now I believe.” Like many 18 year old’s, Brown was not exactly an angel, dabbling in drugs and alcohol and took pictures with gang members “to fit in” and after his parents had divorced when he was his life had its ups and downs resulting in minor altercations with neighbors and accusations of theft.
Darren Wilson was born in Texas and his parents divorced when he was three, his mother would remarry and divorce two more times, leaving Darren in without a sound family foundation and “a rough upbringing.” Stealing and forgery charges were brought into his life, as his mother was charged on both counts, found guilty and served five years probation. She died of natural causes when Darren was sixteen, leaving a hole of uncertainty and him seeking “a way to fit in.” Friends confirm that Darren Wilson turned to law enforcement because of the structure it offered and his desire “to help people.” Darren Wilson’s first marriage ended in divorce in November of 2013 and two weeks before the verdict last night he remarried.
I have long maintained that the splinters that go deep into us when we are young, are brought to the surface so they can either be removed or pushed back in deeper depending on circumstances and awareness, and that many of our actions are guided unconsciously but the rudder that is so often steered by those splinters. Life seems to have a way of putting us into positions to deal with those splinters, like it or not.
The background of these two while different in structure is not so very different in content, putting them on a collision course that once again created a connect-a-dots that on the surface looks like another injustice, another white on black crime that will go unpunished, another cop that took out a kid with no charges brought.
Past the predictable mob actions and reactions to all of this Mike Brown’s parents pleas went heeded by many, that turning Ferguson into a war zone would only ensure that the connect-a-dots continue. To those whose splinters call for attention and will use any circumstance to justify looting, burning and shooting, no words from parents who’s pain far exceeds the protesters anger can ever stop their rudder from steering them into chaos.
Past the headlines the lessons that Mike Brown and Darren Wilson offer are profound and mostly ignored which ensures they will be repeated in another time and place, with different names and faces but the same teachings nonetheless.
Two boys that found difficulty in growing up, who didn’t want to cause any trouble ended up causing exactly what they sought to escape. Both wanted to “fit in” one boy felt he was given a “sign” and the other one “wanted to help people.” Perhaps the greatest lessons of Mike Brown and Darren Wilson are in plain view if we step back, look at the connect-a-dots and realize the space between the dots are just as important, if not more important than the dots themselves.