Let’s burn this bitch down.” – Louis Head, step-father to Michael Brown & Ferguson, Missouri citizen.

I’d say that’s a strong-to-quite-strong statement made by Mr. Head. At first blush, like many people, I was appalled and a little bit frightened when I saw the footage. “How could he???” 

Hopefully you’ve kept apprised of events in Ferguson, MO, so a re-hashing of events that led to the current state of unrest is unnecessary, because, honestly – the actual event has become secondary to the reaction that perpetuates.

As you may have noticed from my profile photo, I’m white. In a time where we all walk on eggshells making any racial distinction about ourselves, I say that for one reason only…I don’t completely understand the riots, looting, and mayhem that has taken over in Missouri. Or, more accurately, I can’t completely understand.

It’s not my child, it’s not my neighborhood, and my life’s experiences (and my parents and grandparents’ life experiences, respectively) to this point in no way acclimated me to street rioting. I can’t possibly claim to completely understand the vantage point of the citizens (including law enforcement) of #Ferguson anymore than I can completely understand the events of Tiananmen Square 25 years ago.

Not completely. But I do think we can all understand some of what we are seeing. We understand human suffering; we understand the feeling of betrayal and/or unfairness. We understand feelings of frustration, helplessness, and anger. Where we don’t seem to have a common understanding is the various manifestations those feelings may take.

We each have our own Perspective: Depending on where you stand, the same occurrence can look a hell of a lot different. Everybody has a unique history; a collection of experiences that have shaped their respective being. If you look at Ferguson with disgust or with glee, you may want to check yourself a bit. Not everyone will agree or even remotely understand how you can see something the way you do.

I don’t want to devolve into a catchy allegory about rioting and corporate change; I think it minimizes the pain and heartbreak of those truly impacted by the outcome (and continued outcomes) of the tragic occurrence that cost Michael Brown his life, Darren Wilson his future, and the city of Ferguson much, much more.

But for those of us in Human Resources, it never hurts to remember the responsibility we have when it comes to dealing with human interactions in our respective workplace. Going in with pre-conceived notions may not be our plan, but as fellow humans (opinions may vary) we can’t assume that we have it all figured out based on the view we have through our own lens.