People are drawing the wrong lessons from Michael Brown’s tragic death. Racism didn’t kill him. Bad decision making killed him. The pop culture that celebrates him based upon the myth by his hoodlum accomplice is also at the heart of the problem by celebrating criminals, gangstas, no snitch, and slackers. It was tragic that Brown made bad decisions. It is these bad decisions that in microcosm go to the heart of a disease starting to infect our country. People feel that they need to respect no one. He decided that he would get high. bad decision one. Then steal from a store, bad decision 2. Decision 3, when confronted knock the store personnel down another bad decision. Decision 4, instead of keeping a low profile walk in the middle of a street. Decision 5, when an officer yells at him and his friend to get out of the road (professionally asking them move to the sidewalk would have been a much better option), he name calls the officer, bad decision. APB comes out with description from decisions 2 an 3. Officer Wilson decides to turn around and confront them. Bad decision 6, he attacks an armed officer in his cruiser and tries to grab at his weapon. Bad decision 7, after he is fleeing and has a significant lead of 30 seconds on the stunned and now pursuing on foot officer, unlike his accomplice, he turns around and says that you are too much of a pussy to shoot me and comes back toward the officer. Some witnesses say charge him, others saw it differently. Bad decision 8 when shot, he didn’t just stop and dive. One witness told the Grand jury that he/she wondered is this guy crazy? Why doesn’t he just stop and fall? How many times have we attended funerals of people who died too young and asked why? At the heart is a consistent lack of quality decision making? What’s the real lesson? Cops are racist or the real danger to my community is an internal cancer that thinks success is white instead of equal opportunity? Could it be that we need to teach quality decision making to our youth, respect for authority, respect for yourself– don’t get high– don’t risk your dreams with stupid stuff like shoplifting, and don’t choose the prison path over the college path? We should remember Brown because he was a tragic figure. On one hand he had a bright future two weeks away, instead he threw his life away for nothing. That is heart breaking. It is not only heartbreaking because of the individual case, but that decision is being repeated too often. I wish the Urban League, NAACP (of which I am a member), and other fine organizations would give as much public attention to that aspect the Brown tragedy. I know they care about the deeper problems. On a local level, I have been a part of internal discussions so I know the hearts of people are engaged in grappling with these problems. I just think when we let a myth grow up that actually harms our ability to solve the real problems by dividing the community from the police, diverting the conversation from the real problems the situation uncovered, and allows the professional agitators, anarchists, and others to actually hurt a community by destroying minority owned businesses and jobs, we do a disservice to the wider community. We have to say to our young people that choosing success, faith, honor, hope, and a future is an equal opportunity thing. One author wrote a book, Think and Grow Rich: It’s a Black Thing. Maybe we need to put pamphlets of that in every high school. Maybe elementary schools should be included. Stop the enable the hoodlum to hurt you mentality called don’t snitch. Why not? So you can keep being victimized? That’s stupid! Don’t get too good of grades or your not cool? So working 3 jobs at minimum wage until you die of an heart attack at 60 is? Maybe dying in a street fight at 30 is better. No, that’s foolish talk. Let’s call it out. We have to shame not people but bad attitudes that destroy people and build up the people. We need to go to war and uproot them root and branch. We need to embrace the values of Faith, freedom, and family that allowed us to survive 350 years of oppression and emerge prosperous, strong, and dignified with inventors, Doctors, CEO’s, Generals, and even a President of These United States. Let’s start inspiring more young men to go to college not prison. Are there things the larger society can do? Sure, let’s evaluate some of the silly victim-less crimes that only some people really get arrested for. We need to have a working reentry system so people who made a bad decision at 17 or 22 aren’t still stuck behind vindictive barriers at 30, 40 or 50. Stop the attack on the charter schools that are giving hope and skills to kids that were already failing district public schools. Aid them, don’t be afraid to look at progress not just standards, reward success. Do things which strengthen marriage and family not undermine them. Invest in law enforcement to provide security, but also invest in community building and economic inclusion that will make security less necessary in the long run. Things like leaving Brown’s body uncovered like road kill for 4 hours was inflammatory and disrespectful. If officials want respect, give respect.