Rudnik > Indifferent Gods atop a Fallen World

| June 4, 2015

Of course, all lives matter; except when they don’t.

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Nick Rudnik, Valdosta Today Opinion Contributor

It has been said that even “a broken clock is right twice a day.” Rarely do I ever read and consider the many deeply ideological musings of Rich Lowry, the current heir to the Bill Buckley throne at “National Review,” but that doesn’t mean he’s never on point. As I noted, even the most broken of clocks are right every so often.

This past week, Lowry penned an opinion piece in “Politico Magazine” titled “#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter.” I admit that when I found the article, I opened it solely for its sensational heading and my lackluster feelings toward the columns of Rich Lowry. Needless to say, the “click bait” drew me in.

But when I examined Mr. Lowry’s column, I found to my surprise much I could concur with. Lowry writes, “Let’s be honest: Some black lives really don’t matter. If you are a young black man shot in the head by another young black man, almost certainly no one will know your name.”

He continues by noting, “Al Sharpton won’t come rushing to your family’s side with cameras in tow. MSNBC won’t discuss the significance of your death. No one will protest, or even riot, for you. You are a statistic, not a cause. Just another dead black kid in some city somewhere, politically useless to progressives and the media, therefore all but invisible.”

Clearly, Mr. Lowry, like any writer, has an agenda that he wishes to impart unto his readers. While I disagree with Lowry’s evident attempt to undermine the national movement to highlight police violence, the so-called “Black Lives Matter” campaign, I nonetheless agree with the premise of his argument. Where has the national media coverage been in Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray?

The Black Lives Matter campaign in Baltimore has tempered recently largely because of the abhorrent crime statistics in May: 35 murders. The worst single month of violence in “Baltimore Murderland, USA” since 1999. Where has the media been in the aftermath of some of the worst violence Baltimore has seen in over a decade? I thought, as the mantra goes, black lives matter. What about those black lives murdered on the streets of Baltimore by another African American? Perhaps we have this “black lives matter” campaign all wrong.

Reflecting on the general, unending cycle of addiction, crime, poverty, and violence in Baltimore, I turned to my education in religion. A central question to any religious tradition is, despite the assumed majesty and ineffability of the gods—that is, however we call or understand the ultimate power of the universe—how do we explain their indifference, their lack of concern, to the plight of the deeply flawed, perhaps even fallen, world below them? Most traditions have their own ways of rectifying this problem.

Likely, the simplest and most pervasive solution rests in a notion of “free will.” Men are endowed with the agency to make decisions and choices for themselves. In this way, when calamity and strife befalls the world, the blame does not rest with the powers above, but the will of man below.

This explanation is satisfying to some; to others, it is not. What’s clear is that, regardless of how you address the ultimate source of the systemic problems in Baltimore, and many more American cities like it, we all understand the problems in our populated urban centers are, in fact, systemic. Moreover, we understand they’re human problems, which can be remedied by human hands.

Mr. Lowry, in his column, criticizes Democratic and White House calls for more gun control laws to prevent more urban violence. And he’s right to do so. For more gun control is but a bandage on a cancer. More gun control will not solve a pervasive and all-encompassing problem. Our education system has failed Baltimore, as has our criminal justices system, our social service agencies, our political leaders, our welfare system, and more. There is no single “magic bullet” to stymie violence in a truly failed civilization like Baltimore.

So when it’s said that only some black lives matter, it simply is the truth. The cold, hard truth. In short, it’s not the indifference of the gods above—some abstract source out of our own reach to vest the blame for society’s deep seated ills which cause cycles of poverty, crime, and violence. It’s our own indifference, it’s our collective lack of moral and political courage to actually address the sum total of problems that plague our urban crime centers that lead us to no real solution to solve the great problems of our time.

Indeed, in our world today, some black lives don’t matter; Mr. Lowry is right. Until we, not anyone or anything else, address the requisite, systemic problems of our fallen world, our beleaguered urban center, they frankly never will.


rudnik-thumbnailNicholas A. Rudnik is currently pursuing a degree in political science with a concentration in American politics at Valdosta State University. Previously, he’s served as a congressional page in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 111th Congress and in the Office of U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop. Further, Nick has served on staff at an institutional interest group, the Association of American Law Schools, in Washington and has worked in the private sector. He has presented his research, focused primarily on congressional parties and elections, at regional academic conferences and hopes to pursue a graduate degree in political science. Nick is currently completing two manuscripts relating to southern congressional elections and judicial decision-making in the area of campaign finance; he can be contacted via e-mail at narudnik@valdosta.edu. Follow Nick on Twitter: @NickRudnik.

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2 Comments on "Rudnik > Indifferent Gods atop a Fallen World"

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  1. Chris says:

    I agree with most of what you say. However, and you knew this was coming. The education system did not fail them, They failed to take advantage of the system. Everyone is offered an education and it is up to them to participate in it. Don’t let peer pressure keep from getting what is yours. You have to want it bad enough to get it. No one can learn it for you. Example: We trained and armed the Iraqi’s and what did they do when the time came to use it? They dropped their weapons and ran. Whose fault is it that they have no courage or staying power?
    As for the gods not stopping the horrors man does to one another, consider what was written on a concentration camp wall. “If there is a god he is going to have to beg my forgiveness.” The only person you should rely on for the here and now is yourself. Don’t let peer pressure or the poor me syndrome keep you from acheiving what is yours. If you fail, so be it. But you should never give up or blame someone else for your lack of will. Alcoholics and drug addicts have plenty of excuses to keep drinking and drugging, when in fact it is their lack of will to stay clean and sober.

  2. billeeg says:

    Well said, Chris…..