In the training as a teacher in the college I attended, we were required to take human relations classes. As teachers, we were expected to know how to defuse anger, to handle flaring emotions, to deal with controversy.

We understood our history. The race issues of the 1960s were pretty much fresh on our minds when I took the class in the mid-70s. We knew about Martin Luther King and Selma and the march on Washington. The very current issue of the day was the whole Equal Rights Amendment – treating women as second class citizens was getting its due.

So, despite the fact that we college students were just a few years removed from sit ins and peace rallies and marches on this or that civic spot, we also learned about active listening, about being sensitive. We did some role-playing, we had guest speakers.

Yes, we delved deeply into human relations.

Now let’s come forward to today.

All this in Ferguson – the whole thing is tragic. Unfortunate. A big mistake. I’m talking about the whole thing here, too, folks. The original incident between the cop and the kid, and then ensuing community reaction. It’s all emotional; so sad.

I have my trouble when none of the ensuing reaction amounts to any kind of solution. I don’t see how burning down some businesses or overturning some cop cars shows us how to solve the problem of how the police face the public. The problem is there, yes – and that’s because it is simply the fact that when people confront each other, things happen.

I support the right to express the anger, the frustration, the sorrow. I do not support the damage done in the name of that anger and frustration.

So how can I apply that human relations class – how can anyone?

I know we weren’t the only college in the world learning about such techniques. Let’s hope there are others out there … and that the populace will see the lack of fruit in the violence.

And you know, prayer isn’t a bad idea either. The spiritual aspect speaks to the whole issue as well.

I believe we have been blessed by God with intellect and spirituality that are more fruitful than the harm brought about in the violence and a good many of the empty acts going on in the name of moral outrage. (Yes, I know – poppycock on God, some of you say – no matter, it’s what I believe.)

Here’s hoping some of those who are blessed with the gift of listening and fruitful discussion can make something of all of this.

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