Robinson: Nope, we can’t all get along

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

This column by Amelia Robinson appeared on the Dayton Daily News' Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Aug. 9 2020.

To answer the question Rodney King asked on May 1, 1992: No.

We can not all get along.

You remember Rodney King, don’t you?

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Three days into riots sparked by the acquittal of four Los Angeles policemen accused of savagely beating him, King famously uttered, “Can we all get along, can we get along?,” as part of an effort to calm the rage.

The LA riots went on two more days.

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We can’t all get along, and I am not only talking about when it comes to police brutality or violence in the streets.

We can’t not all get along when it comes to politics or religion or who should pay for healthcare....

We can’t all get along, but not getting along just doesn’t happen.

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There is intent.

Something inside of us that wants very deeply not to all get along. It finds reason not to listen, not to value, not to understand.

Not to reason.

That complex tribal desire is the real enemy that stalks hope, and keeps us seeing things only the way that is most convenient for us.

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

We can’t get along, but we can pick sides even when it would make much more sense to join forces in the name of what is best for all of us.

Nearly 30 years after Rodney King first became a household name, his question seems insufficient.

“Getting along” is meaningless, and an affront to our potential.

I can never talk to my neighbor or be his best first.

Both are getting along, so what really is the value of just getting along?

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Getting along and playing nice-ish on the surface keeps you in the same place.

Besides, getting along is the insane sister of going along.

We are all very good with going along.

You know, minding our own business and ignoring things that push us farther away from the principles that make us all human. We are knocked from common ground.

Those principles are what the late Rodney King was try to appeal to. He couldn’t reach them.

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So no, we can not all get along.

We need new goals.

Can we listen to each other? Can we value each other? Can we try to understand?

Can we reason?

Can school resume safety during a pandemic? Dayton Daily News Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson and Education Reporter Jeremy Kelley will discuss the upcoming school year with parents, school officials and other experts during Dayton Daily News Community Conversation: Going Back to School During Coronavirus.

Watch the town hall discussion live on the Dayton Daily News' Facebook page 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 13. Send your questions to

Columnist Amelia Robinson is the Dayton Daily News’ Ideas and Voices editor.

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