It comes for us all. Like Ben Franklin said, the only things certain in this world are death and taxes.
While we all know it will happen, knowing where, when, or how are all things that cannot be known. For some, it is disease, or age, or trauma....but horribly, many come at the hands of our fellow man.
The murder rate in these United States for the "most recent statistical year" is 4.7 per 100,000. For 2011, the last year I could find full data, the rate was higher...at 5.2 per 100,000 for a grand total of 16,238.
Compare that to something more mundane, like motor vehicle theft. That rate is almost 230 per 100,000....so you're far more likely to have your car stolen than to be murdered, at least statistically.
But let us speak of murder for a moment. Backing up to death, dead is dead. It doesn't matter how you got there. But in the eyes of the law, it does. There's various "degrees" of murder, manslaughter, negligence, and a whole litany of legalese covering what happens when your life is ended by your fellow man.
But again I say, dead is dead. Did it make a difference to Eric Garner how he died? Michael Brown was shot, but he's still dead too. Did it matter how he got there? This probably hasn't made the national wire, but locally there has been a rash of pedestrian deaths in the city of Brockton
. These folks were all mown down by car; does it matter to them how they died?
Dead is still dead.
Unfortunately, we as a society have made choices that it does make a difference. Theoretically, at least, there is a difference between planning and carrying out a murder with malicious aforethought, and drinking heavily and then getting behind the wheel of a car. The legal proceedings in all these cases are supposed to be blind, but like many things in these United States, it doesn't work the way it's supposed to.
So how does justice get served? It seems that there are always some crimes that will never be solved. I can't vouch for the accuracy of these figures, but it's claimed that up to 40% of all murders go unsolved in the US
Especially in the case of Mr. Garner, that's a disturbing finding. There are eyewitnesses, there is video of the action, and actually footage of the gentleman expiring on the pavement. The only difference is the perpetrator - he wore a uniform.
With all that evidence arrayed against you or me, it would be almost certain we'd be spending quite some time at our local "gated community" with others of the same ilk.
Some years ago, a Presidential campaign was run on the theory that there are now "two Americas". I daresay there's more than that. There is an America for white, moneyed privilege. But there's literally dozens more Americas, depending on your rank and station in life. Death and taxes come for everyone in those different Americas...but it's a little more opportunistic in some neighborhoods. The question remains - and it may be an unanswerable one....what can we do to change that?
It's not coming from Washington - the last 6 years have conclusively shown that those we elect to represent us are far more interested in preserving the status quo.