I just turned 69.
No spring chicken now, but not yet 70, which according to my grandfather entitles a person to frankly speak their mind on any subject.
It is close enough for me.
Since I was a little boy growing up in the south, I have been exposed to the civil rights problem of my fellow black citizens. When I was a boy you never ever saw a black person hold a public office. When I was young, there were no black police or firemen or commissioners or mayors or presidents of anything. I never knew a doctor or a dentist or a manager of anything that was black.
That has all changed due to the civil rights act that President Johnson got passed in 1964. We began to implement that law which was made, not by Supreme Court decree, but by the elected representatives of the people. Education and opportunity opened and many took advantage of that change.
When I went into the Army in 1969, I worked for a black captain who was a mentor to me.
I saw black generals that were the embodiment of professional. Later, I commanded black noncommissioned officers that I remember with gratitude and fondness.
When I left service and worked in industry around the south, many of the best employees were black men and women of distinction who gave more than a day's effort for their pay.
They earned their promotions and many became managers and leaders in their communities. I was proud to know them.
I know that the world is not perfect and it is never going to be.
I know that racism and bigotry still exist and always will, but we have made such a change from the world I knew as a boy.
I know some old people are still stuck in the past.
Some politicians still imagine that they live in 1963 and relive the past in the present, but we have made real progress as a people.
Why are so many people so mad?
Perhaps it is this new technology. Cell phone videos never tell the whole story and we will not wait for the facts to be carefully assembled.
Elected leaders and reporters feel compelled to pronounce judgment on the most fleeting of details.
Then social media becomes one long list of hate filled, nasty, inciting language. That raw anger feeds upon itself.
And the truly unbalanced turn this abstract sense of wrong into acts of real violence. Dallas. Baton Rouge.
We just had a young, black, former marine kill--in cold blood--a young, black policeman that was a model for us all, of service to his community.
Now, violent men are out hunting police like animals. The fire of revenge begins to consume us. I hear the voice of raze and ruin.
If we keep up this pace of anger, we may yet slide into a race war in our own country and all the work that we have done as a people since 1865 may be undone.
Many leaders at every level of government, and the main stream media, should put bags over their heads in shame. They have caused this by their policies and by their words.
And we, the people, have allowed it.