As I watched the news unfold in Dallas last night, my heart ached for the police officers and their families. The majority of police officers and law enforcement personnel are good people trying their best to serve their communities. This was evidenced last night in Dallas when the shooting started. Protesters ran away from the gunfire and police officers ran toward it. The cost was high for the police officers but very few civilians were casualties in the process.
The political pundits were busy spinning the narrative this morning and we have grown accustomed to the fact that politicians will eventually pursue an avenue that pushes their particular agenda and ideology. They have become very astute at never letting a good crisis go to waste for their own gain. It is just another symptom of what ails our country.
The photograph above has yellowed with time, but I had to take a look at it this morning. (I am the tall one in the middle of the photo.) It has been almost 33 years since I graduated from the police academy and put on the uniform for the St. Louis County Police Department. I was stationed in the North County Precinct not far from Ferguson, Missouri. While the demographics and dynamics of North St. Louis County have changed over the course of time, much of it remains similar. Events of recent months have reminded me that it is difficult to introduce cultural change that takes hold and transforms an entire community or region. Breaking the chains of bias, prejudice, and mistrust is easier said than done.
The police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana which sparked the protests, the intentional assault and execution of the Dallas police officers, the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, and a multitude of other incidences point to a nation in severe distress. Unfortunately, these events are merely symptoms of a deeper divide that exists in our country. It isn't just about race. It isn't just about economic inequality. It is about trust--or lack thereof.
When incidences take place, I always lean toward the side of letting the investigation take place to get facts before deciding. Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson is a case in point. Facts told a different narrative than did emotion.
Sadly, I understand the sentiment that people of color express about their distrust of the system. They are not sure they will get a fair chance at justice even if the facts are in their favor. Why do they feel this way? We saw it earlier this week at the highest level with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Facts revealed some amazing things that would land the average person in prison for years, but no charges at all were filed against the Democratic presumptive nominee. There appears to be different forms of justice depending upon your status in society.
We can never look at social issues and problems in isolation if we hope to uncover the root causes. The racial tensions in America certainly have a detailed history. Remnants of anger, hurt, and mistrust remain from years of struggle for equality. This is understandable. Consequently, moving forward in healing and respect will not be an easy venture that simply happens on its own. It will require compassionate and effective leadership on many different levels from a multitude of entities.
What works against these endeavors to bring unity and peace among the people of this nation? We can look at whole menu of factors that contribute to dissension and strife. Education, employment opportunities, access to healthcare, proper housing, and other economic factors play a role. Drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, and other aberrant behaviors lead to discord among families. Systems and structures, or lack thereof, in low-income communities create a downward spiral of despair that is difficult to overcome.
We also have a very problematic component of society that undermines all aspects of pursuing racial harmony. Our politics tell us that some lives don't matter. Although most politicians won't admit it, the governmental support of organizations such as Planned Parenthood perpetuate the assault on people of color. If you look at the history of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood the objective is clear. Controlling the black population by the use of abortion is evident yet today when you look at the location of these clinics of death and destruction. This act of violence against all people, but against blacks in particular, is not simply condoned by our politicians. It is celebrated, praised, and funded heavily by tax dollars. They don't see the dichotomy in this.
Furthermore, politicians continue to push for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Over and over again we are reminded that life is cheap by legalized and legislated forms of killing. Then, we look in horror and shock when someone pulls a gun and shoots someone else. The indoctrination of young minds to accept the legalized form of killing has repercussions in other areas of life not covered by judicial decisions and legislative endeavors. Until we wake up and address the obvious contradictions of life and death from these perspectives our hope of peace and tranquility will remain just a dream.
Today is a sad day. We offer our prayers and condolences to all of the people who lost loved ones in Dallas. We pray for the repose of the souls who died.
Finally, I want to offer a word of gratitude to all law enforcement personnel who strive to fulfill their responsibilities with integrity. I am grateful for your service. Please know of my prayers for you and your families during these difficult times. Your task is not an easy one.