Like many of you, my heart has felt heavy since the events of last Thursday night, July 7, that saw a lone gunman murder 4 Dallas Police officers and 1 DART officer. In the days and nights since, I have been filled with grief, burned with frustration at the foolishness of a few, and overwhelmed at witnessing firsthand the LOVE of so, so many.
By God’s grace, I was fortunate to be able to attend three of the officer’s funerals in person. This past week, I have had the privilege, joy, and honor of meeting, speaking, laughing, crying and praying with white, black, and brown people from all walks of life. I’ve witnessed firsthand the loving-kindness of a flood of people travelling to Dallas from all over our nation to pay their respects as they grappled to make sense of a senseless act that extinguished the flames of five of our society’s best. Make no mistake about it; the world has lost five exceptional, good men. They did not seek to be heroes. They simply sought to protect and serve.
Much has changed since I was a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s. We have made lots of progress since I was a young man in the 80s. I’ve seen progress continue throughout my life. But, we still have work to do.
The job is not finished.
Unfortunately, the scourge of racism is woven into the tapestry of our nation’s fabric. It is a hurt that has ached too long. While many have done much to eradicate this parasite, it’s stains are not easily washed out. The wounds of racism continue to be slow to heal. Scabs of this national hurt remain, albeit protruding less today than yesterday. With continued vigilance, it can be less tomorrow than today. United we stand. Divided we fall.
Love begins with forgiveness, so to my brothers and sisters of color, I ask, as difficult as it might be, that you forgive me and all of those who at any time made you feel less valued, less seen, less valuable, lesser in any way. You matter equally. You matter, period.
While celebrating our differences and uniqueness, we must strive to keep moving forward as one. Let us no longer be defined by the hateful voices or the destructive actions of a few.
They do not speak for us.
If we are truly going to all get along, we must reject the foolish rhetoric of divisiveness. Sameness is not the objective. That would fall far short of celebrating our Creator’s almighty magnificence. But we can be different and be united. These are not mutually exclusive ideals.
Togetherness, in the bright, shining light of our differences, proclaims what faith, hope, and love can do. Together, we can heal this wound. We must continue to put our minds to it and be willing to keep our hearts in it. Together, we can overcome the deep hurts and divisive pains racism has wrought. To do that, as one of the officers who spoke at this week’s funerals eloquently pointed out, we must begin to forgive.