Richmond, Virginia has provided some great interactions, some on the flag, some face to face. When I pulled up in Carytown and parked on the street, it was only a moment before Officer Jennifer appeared on her bicycle. Initially I wondered where she came from, I turned around and bam! she was there. A brief anxiety crossed my mind, but I quickly understood that Officer Jennifer was simply curious about what I was doing, more than if I was violating anything. She explained this was her beat and that she had a bike and a car that she often had to resort to when called as back-up. New RPD policies require all police stops have two officers due to tenuous public/police interactions. I used this opportunity to inquire about the relationship between the public and police in Richmond. Officer Jennifer explained to me that RPD used "community based" approach to law enforcement, which seemed a little canned to me. I asked if there were tensions and she explained that she felt like the community and the police had a good rapport citing the local BLM (black lives matter) protest that occurred without incident. Then she produced the note, pictured above, that she found taped to her bike one morning. Hard not to have your heart warmed by teal ink and 6th grade curly handwriting. Officer Jennifer had a wide smile as she told me of other generous gestures of support she and other officers had received. It can be a thankless job cleaning up society's mess, but she has a very positive attitude and brings it with her everyday. It is imperative we as a society emulate her excellent example and bring our positive attitudes everyday. Thank you Officer Jennifer, keep up the good work.
I spent the morning at the Richmond Veterans Hospital, a vast sprawling complex of parking lots filled to the brim. I was excited to take a freshly painted flag to the VA and get the perspective of those who chose to dedicate themselves to protecting our freedoms. Fortunately I found some space way in the back, but not in a place with much foot traffic. I spent the morning watching people roam for parking and then hobble towards hulking brick promises guaranteed by their service to their country. That promise of well-being and care in exchange for ultimate dedication to our American cause is under strain and it shows on the faces of all our veterans. Stress of pain, frustration from bureaucracy, angst of our political direction, and the general disassociation they feel from the greater population. It is a lot to live with when you feel like you did your part and the rest of American just benefits from your sacrifice. I know this project might ruffle a few veterans' feathers, but I hope they grasp the crux of my mission. It is not the flag they protect, it is the freedoms it represents, the freedoms we all enjoy, and that we should be grateful we all live in such a country. Without those freedoms & people willing to protect them our ability to express our thoughts freely may cease to exist. Respect.
Lastly I spoke with Matt, who did not write upon the flag. He passed by the flag once mildly assessing its' contents, but kept his stride and direction constant. A man of discipline I suspected. When he came back by I engaged him with my project and readily had something to say. Matt is a law officer in the Richmond area and his thoughts of the flag was simple: don't listen to the media. He went on to share a recent story about a shooting that occurred in southern Virginia. His brother-in-law, a state trooper, had a man pull a shotgun on him and he defended himself returning fire and killing the man. Shortly there after the Trooper Station received a call from the Associated Press inquiring about the shooting. The AP asked the race of the victim and upon hearing the answer as "white" they hung up the phone. Not interested, not news. Matt feels like much of the angst in our nation is being stirred up by the media and its hard not to agree with him. The 4th estate has succumbed to the powers of the 5th estate, by-passing truth and integrity and going with whatever outlandish headline will get the most attention. Nowadays it is more important than ever to take in a variety of media reports and assemble your own understanding of what is going on in the world. To quote Timothy Leary, "Think for yourself and question authority" especially when it comes to what media you're feeding on.
I took the opportunity to ask Matt his thoughts on gun control. He quickly responded with "guns for all." His rationale came from the very American perspective of the old west. "If I have a gun and you have a gun & we both know it, then we've reached a peaceful equilibrium which we both respect." I let that sink into my brain instead of retorting with gun violence statistics because it does make some sense, in a long term cultural apocolyptic kinda way. I am not a gun advocate, but in applying Matt's thinking and getting past "good guy with a gun/bad guy with a gun" to EVERYONE has a gun, our societal psychology will have shifted. By changing the power dynamic of those who choose acts against society through gun violence, we may ultimately see less of those events. Conversely, other gun deaths will undoubtedly go up. Given our country is addicted to and at the mercy of money and power, close kin of guns, the full armament of our society seems much more plausible than the intelligent legislating of gun availability. What a world we live in.
Solve et Coagula expresses transmutation from base to a finer state, the perpetual goal of spiritual growth and human evolution. Sounds like a more refined idea of the statement below it!