Amidst protests and riots, something extraordinary happened in America. Some police symbolically took a knee in front of the protesters, who immediately responded by crying, hugging the cops, and kneeling together. Some conservatives have reacted with anger and said that the police were giving in to political correctness.
They have missed the point: For the first time in modern history, the police were allowed to communicate directly to the clenched hearts of those who have felt the pain of phantom systemic racism from an era long since amputated. The officers who kneeled were able to bypass 50 years of race-baiting by those who have tried to instigate hate and race war and tell the people in visual, visceral language: We hear you. We are on your side.
People who lose a limb can often feel the presence of their lost arm or leg for years or even decades after it is gone. Sometimes they experience great pain. It typically occurs when the limb is lost in a traumatic incident. At the time of the trauma, the person may have clenched their fist, and the phantom limb often becomes frozen in this position.
After a while, this becomes unbearably painful. Try clenching your fist for a few minutes and see how long it takes before it starts hurting. Imagine never being able to experience relief. That’s the life of many people who suffer from phantom pain.
The Mirror Cure
Amazingly, phantom pain can often be cured in seconds. Patients are told to put both the intact and amputated hands into a box with a mirror, which creates the illusion of seeing two clenched fists.
They are then instructed to try to open both hands simultaneously while looking into the mirror box. The patient can see the illusion of the phantom fist opening, and often this visual feedback is enough to unclench the phantom limb and reduce or remove the pain.
This method demonstrates the psychological power of mirroring. It can circumvent the rational mind and speak directly to the brain at a visceral level.
Phantom Systemic Racism
Until the civil rights movement, there was systemic racism in parts of the United States. However, it was amputated from the system – both in law, with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and as an acceptable value system and attitude. Afterward, no one could openly avow racism without experiencing social stigma.
Today, America is one of the least racist countries in the world, according to the World Values Survey. Still, a significant portion of American blacks feels that systemic racism is a real and dominant problem in their lives, even if it was amputated more than 50 years ago.
It can be likened to a form of phantom limb. The systemic racism is gone, but the pain remains as a cultural memory of past trauma. The pain has been kept alive by radical leftist professors and race-baiters in the media, who hope to instigate a race war to topple the American system of individual liberty. Any actual experience with individual racism, of course, simply reinforces this.
This brings us back to the present. By taking a knee, thereby mirroring an anti-racist symbol, these officers were able to circumvent the rational mind and speak directly to the hearts of the black protesters.
When done right, mirroring can have a powerful healing effect. In this case, it was strong enough to break through the wall of pain. However, mirroring can also be a powerful method of forming a faux emotional connection to an unsuspecting victim. The Democrats have already recognized the visual persuasion of what the police officers did in honesty, and, in a well-choreographed media seance in Emancipation Hall, Democratic lawmakers took a knee. But mirroring may not work if the gesture is perceived as dishonest.
A New Start?
Much work remains. There are bountiful problems in the black community that need to be addressed. However, maybe these police officers have started a process of healing that may eventually allow America to lay its ghosts of the past to rest at last.
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