by Dr. Denise R. Ames
The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. When this earth-shattering event is superimposed upon a deadly coronavirus pandemic still at large, it has seized the attention of an American public. The protests, along with the accompanying acts of violence and looting, have often outraged and befuddled us at the same time. One friend commented, “I can’t make sense of any of this.”
What the effects of the protests will be is still being sorted out. Hopefully, it will bring about positive change for African Americans, who have felt that police have disproportionately mistreated and targeted them for many years. My point in this blog is not to rehash the events (protests, looting, and aftermath) being written about in liberal and conservative newsrooms. There are many gripping stories that tell a wide range of viewpoints about what has happened.
Yet, I have found that there are many underlying issues that have bubbled up from the core of our country to the surface during this tumultuous time. Also, I have found that there are some topics or questions that are not being sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.
The following series of blogs offer my 12 Reflections:
- Seeing the “Events” Through Bound Assumptions
I have read numerous publications (from conservative to left-wing) about the events and came away disturbed and fascinated about the range of opinions. Each perspective offers its own causes, what happened, and possible solutions. Each perspective has its own merits, since the events were complex, multi-faceted, and played out across our huge nation.
I also found that each perspective is undergirded by what I call bound assumptions. These assumptions are axioms, a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true. The statement that is taken to be true serves as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. So there are times when each side builds their entire argument on a bogus foundation.
Bounded assumptions are particularly relevant in the case of protesters who were shouting out misinformation about police violence. Frequent signs claimed “they’re killing us” or “we are afraid to go outside because of police attacks.” Since the number of unarmed black people killed by police in 2019 was only nine, their message was not based on evidence but uncritical acceptance of a bogus narrative. However, from their particular worldview many of the protesters thought this message was true.
Debunking false narratives is more difficult than it appears. We are a culture that pride itself on our use of reason, science, and data, yet, for the most part, we only believe data that supports our emotional conclusions.
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About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames
Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences—scholarly research, teaching, reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development trainings, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, developing globally-focused books and educational resources. She has written seven books, blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units for the non-profit and clients.
Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!
Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.
It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.
Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books