I’ve sat at my computer and pulled up a blank page to write something several times in the past few weeks, especially the past two days, but I couldn’t think of anything. As I watched the aftermath of the Dallas attack, despairing, I finally figured out why no words would come:
THERE ARE NO WORDS for the terrorist attack that not only killed 49 innocent civilians in Orlando, but also specifically targeted those who already frequently endure hardship due to who they are.
THERE ARE NO WORDS for the murder of a man in Minnesota who was shot because he had a legal firearm, which he told the police he had and had a license for – but he was shot in cold blood because he was black, while a 4-year-old watched from the backseat.
THERE ARE NO WORDS for people deciding to seek revenge, not justice, return hate for hate and darkness for more darkness, and killing police officers in cold blood. This does not help the cause. This does not help anything.
THERE ARE NO WORDS for the systemic racism that permeates our law enforcement and judicial systems, and even everyday lives, that perceives black men as more threatening, arrests black men at higher rates, and gives them much worse punishments for their crimes than their white counterparts. (If you’re going to argue this point, read this first. And then don’t.)
THERE ARE NO WORDS for why we immediately jump to our sides – “He shouldn’t have been resisting arrest!”/”If he were white he’d still be alive!” “Without guns this wouldn’t have happened!”/”With more guns this wouldn’t have happened!” – rather than first mourning for lives lost, and listening, and trying to understand the other side. Even if your reaction is true, compassion does more than knee-jerk pontificating.
THERE ARE NO WORDS for how broken, lost, and utterly hopeless this world is and always has been. God didn’t mean it to be this way. Sometimes I wish He had never given us free will, but He did – and this mess is the result of millennia of terrible, sinful choices – of ignoring what He told us.
THERE ARE NO WORDS that can stop this more than Mark 12:30-31:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Love God – put His ways and His will above your own. (Even if those who aren’t Christians did this by more closely following whatever reasonable standard of morality they hold to, it would make a huge difference.) Love your neighbor – put others before yourself.
If your black coworker is heartbroken because black lives don’t seem to matter? Do not counter with statistics of black-on-black crime or by saying “#alllivesmatter”. Listen. Try to understand. Have compassion.
If your friend married to a police officer is freaking out because of the Dallas shooting? Do not respond by pointing out that “they brought this on themselves by unfairly targeting people of color”. Listen. Try to understand. Have compassion.
Get off your reactionary, defensive soapbox, and instead use it as a table to bring people together. In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, the world doesn’t need more right people; the world needs more good humans.