Dr. King once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” And maybe some of you are familiar with the saying, “A hard head makes for a soft behind.” When there is any violent outburst against the institutions of power, it is when the deaf and blind state has left a trail of injustice that has stretched the patience of the nation, if not isolated demographics, to yet another one of its many breaking points. The typical objectors to any form of violence warm up their vocal cords and prepare to utter what they perceive to be calming catchphrases—like “violence never solves anything” or “let justice be done”—and that it serves no purpose to destroy one’s own community.
As far as the first platitude goes, it only demonstrates a profound ignorance of human history to suggest that the violence of the oppressor, or the self-defense of the oppressed, has never been of a greater service to the history that is still being written, even if its lessons are ignored more and more often. Concerning the second remark, it goes without saying that if justice were done more often, those speaking the language of the unheard would have less and less to say. But with each wrongful conviction/acquittal, the list of grievances is elongated, and the idea of forgive and forget becomes merely wishful thinking because, in such a climate, who would dare say that out loud? Lastly, to quote the fictional Bishop Myriel, “One does not condemn a thunderclap.” No violent outburst has a predetermined target on which all of its wrath will be concentrated. And with all the aggrieved persons never being concentrated in one place, the outbursts will likewise vary in their destructive potential, but will not have the energy to voluntarily extend far enough to cause further damage that may finally be deemed worthy of sympathy.
As the powers that be harden their hearts to the enduring problems that persecute some and provide others with impunity, the body politic will have fewer and fewer spots that are free of any signs of the acts of self-harm that the nation inflicts on itself. Eventually, when everything else is no longer appealing as a target, where will the unheard look to? They’ll look toward those who, all this time, thought they were untouchable at the head of it all. But what good is the head when the rest of the body is sufficiently incapacitated and unable to execute the orders of the brain that was supposed to be in full control? The hard head will last for a while, however, when enough damage is done, the brain will cease to function properly. But in this case, such a misfortune is never fatal, as there will always be an embryonic state that will benefit from the scatterbrained predecessor in an attempt to regenerate a new body politic that will inevitably inherit the infirmities of the one before it. All of this because no one truly listened to, or bothered to understand, the language of the unheard.