No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. —Robin Williams
Words are insufficient.
If anything, talking seems meaningless at this point. As I’m typing, police operations are still ongoing in Dallas. Five police officers are dead. Five others and one civilian are injured. The attack was planned, calculated, and carried out by people with experience. There may still be bombs planted in a parking garage. Downtown Dallas remains on lockdown.
There is much we still don’t know, but there are a few things that seem certain at this juncture:
- The #BlackLiveMatter protest was peaceful and even friendly up to this point
- The murders of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile influenced but do not justify this event
- Hate gained a foothold that will not easily knock loose.
I am angry. I am heartbroken. I am distressed. I have never been more ashamed of the United States than I am at this moment. 130 years after the end of the Civil War, we should be past this, but we’re not. In the aftermath of that war, we allowed hate to persist. Across the whole 19th century, we allowed hate to affect how laws were drafted, how social rules were established, and how voting lines were drawn. We could have stopped it all, but we didn’t. Now, we reap the horrible consequences.
So Many Words
In the past 24 hours, the Internet has exploded with words, memes, and pictures. Among the moist poignant was a child holding a sign outside the school where Philandro Castile worked as a food service supervisor. The sign related how “Phil” helped this special needs child make sure he had time to eat and make it to class on time. Another picture showed a child holding a sign relating how “Phil” helped him make good food choices. Yet, this same man was shot by police in cold blood.
Someone pointed out on Twitter that after the Orlando shooting gun advocates said those in the club should have carried guns. Yet, Alton Sterling was shot because he was carrying a gun. I’m curious to see if those same gun advocates will support the right of the Dallas snipers to possess what had to have been some form of high-powered rifle.
None of the people who have died this week deserved that fate. Not Alton Sterling. Not Philandro Castile. None of the Dallas police officers. Yet, for whom will justice be served? Anyone?
I can no longer wrap my head around what is happening. I’m leaving for a few days. We had already planned a camping trip for this weekend and unless there are intervening circumstances in the next few hours, we’re still going. We need a break from the insanity sweeping across the United States. I will post articles both days, but they won’t be related to this horrible mess. I just don’t have the words, or the heart, to continue this conversation.
So, I’m giving you the words of people who better express their reactions to this week. Please note that all these comments were made prior to the shooting in Dallas, but that does not mitigate their importance at all. Some are the words of leaders. Others are the words of friends. And while I know you generally don’t like clicking links you find here, where you see a “More” link, please click it and continue reading. The words are important.
Don’t offer prayers because you’ve been praying my entire life and look what good it’s done. Don’t offer your thoughts, either. Offer action based not on anger, but on compassion. I am convinced that is the only way we survive.
Update: 11:00 AM EDT- President Obama’s remarks on Dallas have been added.
Congressman John Lewis
Earlier yesterday, Congressman Lewis posted his mug shot from Parchman Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for using a so-called “white” restroom. Of all the members of Congress, Mr. Lewis has a unique perspective of what it is like to stand up to brutality and injustice. His words carry weight white Congress members can never lift.
Congressman André Carson
Mr. Carson’s perspective is also unique. Not only is he black, he is also Muslim and a former police officer. Click through and read all his words.
The immediate aftermath of the shooting of Philandro Castile was broadcast live on Facebook. His words demonstrate how technology is a tool against injustice.
Mr. Aaron is a colleague here in Indianapolis. A few years ago, he was attacked while walking back to his car after a shoot. All his gear was stolen and he was gravely injured. He understands the fear. Listen to his words.
Syretta may be my all-time favorite makeup artist. The work she does is exquisite. Her words as a black woman are worth heeding.
She’s a single mom who works hard to take care of her kids and raise them to be respectable people. The parallel she draws is a kick to the gut. Yeah, we’re at a point where such a reference is legitimate.
The singer posted this message on her website yesterday. The words are stirring.
At the end of it all, we have some decisions to make. What happens over the course of the next three days could change the United States forever. We can choose compassion or we can choose hate. We’ve had enough words. We need change.