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I'm not sure anything in our country can shock me anymore, and that's saying something.

Not a community vilifying a middle school teacher who was trying to do something right for students, even if it came out wrong. (Side question about the whole Signal Mountain thing from a practical matter: If said teacher or the school or anyone else involved was racist, don't you think that a) they would have stripped those books — and several others — long before school started, and b) do you think they would have publicized it?)

Not that there are talks about a potential four-hour presidential debate happening on a podcast with a former actor-turned-sports commentator who is most known as a handyman on a sitcom.

Not that one of my favorite places downtown was vandalized, defaced with spray-painted swastikas, and not the theory that 15-year-olds could have done it. Do 15-year-olds have swastikas in their playbook? Really?

Not that the joyous return of the NFL was low-lighted by a protest during the national anthem, preceded by players standing for the playing of the Black national anthem. If memory serves, pregame kneeling for the national anthem four years ago was about calling attention to police brutality and the treatment of Black people by the police, right? And it was not meant as anti-American or anti-military, right? Well, those are difficult dots to connect if you kneel for the national anthem but stand out of respect for the Black national anthem, no?

Not that a major college athletic director like Army AD Mike Buddie taking to Twitter like it's Tinder to find a football game match. (UTC, you guys up for a trip to West Point? Heard it's nice this time of year.)

And not the two Los Angeles deputies being shot on duty, and the videos of the event — and the witnesses and protesters all but celebrating the shooting — being the next thing that goes viral.

Sad? Yes. Sickened even? Sure. Shocked? Not anymore.

In a country this divided, it should not surprise any of us that ''or'' has replaced ''and'' as the American conjunction.

Trump or Non-Trump, there is little room in between. Black or white, there is little room for gray.

Rich or poor, there is hardly room for a middle class.

Changing that conjunction seems daunting. Maybe time can do it. Maybe the next generation of leadership not fixed in old-school Swamp ways. Maybe our kids — or their kids — will find the balance between seeing who people are before what they are.

But in the short term, while the ''or'' is inserted whether we want it or not, maybe we should change the choices.

Let's simply ask the question, is it "right or wrong?"

Not in a Pollyanna-ish way. Not in a sarcastic way.

Is this right or is it wrong?

A Black man being choked to death under anyone's knee — especially a police officer's — no matter his past is wrong.

The outrage from that — 2,000 miles away, mind you — does not make it right to celebrate the shooting of two fellow Americans, including a 31-year-old mother, risking their lives to patrol our streets.

These do not seem hard, but using logic in emotional, partisan times often comes with one side crying foul and one side playing the race card. Neither is universally right.

You can understand that Black lives matter and fear the motives of the organization Black Lives Matter. You can understand that policing must be improved without supporting defunding the police.

The "or" in those stances have led us to a place that feels all together wrong.

If we could find that place, well, maybe that could shock us all.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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