It’s good to see people of so many ages and races in so many cities expressing their outrage about the grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of a man in Staten Island.
What is not good to see – what is reprehensible and disgusting – are vandals, smashers, plunderers, looters and all-purpose wreckers hell-bent on a spree of urban destruction, using demonstrations as excuses for lawless free-for-alls.
Don’t these destroyers understand their lunatic destruction has nothing to do with improving the justice system? It has nothing to do with standing up for human rights. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything – except destruction for destruction’s sake.
Demonstrations – peaceful ones – can help change society for the better, such as the many demonstrations, sit-ins, marches and boycotts of the Civil Rights era. The great Martin Luther King Jr. took his cues from two other morally inspiring giants: Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau is most famous as the Massachusetts author of his famous book of self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854). But he is possibly even more influential for his essay, Civil Disobedience, a passionate defense of the moral duty to actively oppose and disobey unjust systems.
Later, Mahatma Gandhi, inspired by Thoreau’s books, adapted Thoreau’s moral imperative for civil disobedience as a tactic to help drive the British out of India. King Jr., inspired by Ghandi, Thoreau and the Bible, also used non-violent protests in the fight against institutionalized racism in America.
Still later, the courageous Nelson Mandela helped South Africa transition from vile Apartheid to a relatively peaceful integration, based on non-violent tactics and policies.
What those four giants all had in common is they realized, if one is to take the moral high ground in any social or political struggle, it must be done without the use of violence. Any victory won is more tenable and stronger if it is achieved without resorting to violent force and indiscriminate killing. People who resort to violence undermine the force of their arguments and ultimately sabotage their own so-called causes.
That is what will happen to worldwide terrorists; in the end they will win nothing.
It’s a lesson urban rioters should learn, but they probably won’t, because those who burn and loot have no principles to begin with. They are wreckers who have no point to make and no cause to achieve.
They are, in a word, losers.