When Is It Okay

The country has been intense of late. This weekend, I spent some time trying to relax a bit by playing a video game. The game was Expeditions: Viking. I spent hours pretending to be a viking thane from 800 A.D. protecting his hold from outside enemies. it was a pretty good time.

There came a point in the game when I, as the player, was facing an unarmed opponent. And that opponent said, “I am unarmed. You would kill an unarmed man?”

This is a common theme in a lot of frontier/medieval games and stories. Only a man without honor kills an unarmed person. Only a coward shoots a man in the back.

And that brought me back to the police killing unarmed black men.

I have been struggling to get a handle on events. I understand intellectually but I’ve been grasping for the emotions. Compassion is good but doesn’t seem to be enough.

People talk a lot about white privilege, and again, intellectually, I get it. But it feels abstract. I prefer to think about white advantage. That feeling lands with me.

I’ve been chewing through how I could challenge my white friends and family when these questions arise. When the assumptions about race shifting into that abstract area that allows people to think about humans as statistics instead of living beings.

It comes down to two questions, which amongst some people will cause enough dissonance that it might get through. Maybe. White bravado and perceived honor vs. reality.

The first, “When is it okay to kill an unarmed man?”

The second, “When is it okay to kill an unarmed black man?”

And it’s goddamn travesty of morality and ethics that for some people those answers will be different.

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