I went to the orthopedist the morning, where they took x-rays. I went to the dentist this afternoon, where they took more (and panoramic) x-rays.
I looked at the pictures and was struck again how beautiful x-rays are. The beautiful tracery of the zygomatic arch. The elegance of the metatarsals. The fine line — almost invisible — that shows where I broke my ankle my junior year in college. The shadows of ligaments and tendons and the roots of teeth.
Then I thought about those other x-rays. The x-rays of a man suffocating as a cop kneels on his neck for nearly nine minutes, well after the man was gone? The x-rays of a woman shot in her own home while she slept? The x-rays of the men shot fleeing — one from white supremacist vigilantes and the other from a cop who then proclaimed with satisfaction “I got him”? What must those look like?
Humans are such fragile things. We do not loom like mountains or tower like trees. We do not run like antelopes or swim like dolphins. Tigers are stronger than us, as are polar bears. The only advantage we have is that which we have made for ourselves. And too often we turn that advantage against each other.
And too often that advantage is turned against people who in the moment cannot fight back, and too often by cops against those who they have sworn to protect and serve. Like George Floyd. Like Breonna Taylor. Like Auhmad Aberey. Like Rayshard Brooks.
Unless something very unusual happens, I will not die of violence. I almost certainly will not die of violence at the hands of the police — at least nor deliberately. Barring auto accident, my x-rays will look pretty much as they are now.
Everyone should be vouchsafed that.