So the cops that savagely beat unarmed, 18-year-old Jordan Miles got away with it, being cleared of “malicious prosecution” charges and a hung jury on “excessive force” and “false arrest.” Jordan Miles, at the time, was a CAPA High School honor student with no criminal record. What else is new and why even discuss it further?
The children’s story, ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’, is said to be the origin of the saying “pay the piper,” or “time to pay the piper.” The gist of the story is the people had a problem (rats) they couldn’t seem to handle on their own. The Piper showed up out of nowhere, displayed that he could make the problem disappear and be their savior . . . but for a fee. The townspeople agreed but when he was done, they didn’t pay and he led their children away. Or we could say astray. It’s never explained what was the root cause of the problem nor why he suddenly appeared with a miraculous and expedient answer. But it’s not just about the people going back on the deal. The deeper part is what happened when the Piper doesn’t get what he wanted out of them in return. Their children, their next generation and legacy were destroyed.
Let’s say, for the sake of storytelling and metaphorical usage, the people of Hamelin are Blacks in America and The Pied Piper is the governing or policing body so to speak. Create the problem: Economic, Social and Educational inequality. Provide the solution: Civil Rights. But when too many of us don’t assimilate or conform: Remain illiterate, uninvolved, uninformed, etc. It’s time to pay the piper: With our young, our Future.
Am I going out on a limb with this analyis? Maybe. But curiously enough in some versions of the story only three children remained behind. One was deaf, the second, dumb or lame and the third was blind.
The tune played in real life is distractions. One, for instance, is the Kony video that went viral back in March of this year. There were feverish posts and cries of foul play with no research, no thought process and some hadn’t even viewed the video before putting it out there in unified protest. Everyone else was against Kony so they had better be too.
In the case of Jordan Miles, is it viral? Not so much. Even with numerous videos and photos showing his face swollen, bloody and bruised beyond human recognition. Hair ripped clean out of his head leaving a glaring bald spot. And the facts laid out that he was simply walking to Grandma’s, unarmed, when confronted then viciously beat by three cops.
It leaves the question, if we were asked to protest, march, raise public awareness Hell against Kony, would we have done so in the same force as the video? And if yes, why not for Jordan?
When comparing the two cases, it seems we have an easier time, collectively, standing in unison against something or someone rather than for it. Perhaps that’s because the bandwagon is harder to push through spirited and hopeful motivation than to ride fueled by the momentum of anger.
A 2009 research report, “Synchrony and Cooperation” from Stanford University has some suggestions on why working together in activities that facilitate bonding and mutual support among the participants works, “Across three experiments, people acting in synchrony with others cooperated more in subsequent group economic exercises, even in situations requiring personal sacrifice. Our results also showed that positive emotions need not be generated for synchrony to foster cooperation. In total, the results suggest that acting in synchrony with others can increase cooperation by strengthening social attachment among group members.”
The study also cites, “Our results suggest that cultural practices involving synchrony (e.g., music, dance, and marching) may enable groups to mitigate the free-rider problem and more successfully coordinate in taking potentially costly social action. Synchrony rituals may have therefore endowed some cultural groups with an advantage in societal evolution, leading some groups to survive where others have failed.”
We can debate endlessly that certain laws need to be changed and lawmakers held accountable. But what laws? The ones supposedly protecting us from such crimes have already been passed. And there probably wasn’t anything done illegally, albeit immorally, in coming to the verdict.
The only law that seems to be broken is the universal law of cause and effect. It’s not on paper, can’t be voted on in congress or signed by the President. It’s a law that’s broken mentally and spiritually when a cause has no lasting effect on the people. We, and we alone, are accountable for the stand and for the justice we didn’t take.
Jordan is now 20 years old, with short term memory problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.
So how do we keep failing to effect social change? Is it the free-rider problem on the Pied Piper’s bandwagon that keeps us from coordinating in unison? I’m not sure. But the lesson of this jury verdict or lack thereof, like countless others, is not new by any stretch of the imagination or growing process. Part of the solution lies in how many times we have to retake this course before we can get even a D level passing grade. D in this case can stand for Divorcing us from the Piper’s distracting tune.
Freedom isn’t free.