Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... - Reverend Martin Luther King Jr (1967).
What are we doing to ourselves?
This past week we had two questionable, honestly horrific situations where police used lethal force to kill two black men, Alton Sterling one day and then Philando Castile the next, in situations that begged the question - yet again - at what point should lethal force even be considered? In Castile's case, it was over a minor traffic stop - over a busted tail light? - that for a white guy - like myself - would have meant a warning from the cop and the chance to drive home and fix the tail light by tomorrow. But for a black guy like Castile it was a death sentence.
And then things got worse last night when - during a peaceful street protest in Dallas regarding Sterling and Castile's deaths - a gunman with an assault rifle took a sniper's position overlooking the protest and opened fire on the cops working the security detail. The shooter wounded twelve officers and civilians, killing five.
Every account about the protest up until then was that it was by the book, nobody causing problems, a genuinely peaceful protest that by all definitions our Constitution encourages. Word is, Dallas is one of those cities than has been effective in maintaining professional relations dealing with the public, had been avoiding the militarization of the police that took place in Ferguson and Cincinnati and a hundred other cities, that had been reducing the kind of bad confrontations that led to last night's protests in the first place.
There is horrifying irony in this, that a place where policing was actually working right had to suffer the loss of four police officers and a transit officer to another angry guy with a gun. All because one angry Black - a military veteran of Afghanistan with no previous police record, and "upset about the recent police shootings" - decided to take his "revenge" on the cops who had nothing to do with those other deaths.
We're still not over what happened in Orlando last month, home to the worst one-shooter gun massacre in our nation's history. Given how bloody that history is, that fact ought to upset every single American. The fact of that shooting - like every other mass shooting our nation's seen - involved yet another angry guy with access to military-level assault rifles ought to stir up action to prevent such guys from easy access to weapons that can kill in a heartbeat with the pull of a trigger finger. And yet...
And yet we dare not talk about any attempt at sensible gun safety laws lest the NRA throw yet another hissy fit. I don't even know why they bother to throw one: they're too busy raking in the dough as more gun nuts race out to the armories to buy up more weapons and ammo out of fear that "Obama's gonna take our gunz."
We cannot gather in peace in public to protest or celebrate or dance or learn. We cannot assemble in our churches or our schools or our shopping malls without fear of the angry guy wielding the almighty gun. We cannot calm down our police forces, who fear every traffic stop and street protest for the likelihood of violent escalation, who overreact and kill those who didn't deserve to die.
Meanwhile, we keep making this nation a safe place for angry guys to get guns, and to use those guns, even on the good guys like cops doing their jobs, to keep the cycle of anger and violence going.
...Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - King
We are all part of that darkness, all because of a few who live for - who love - that hate.
Where are we going that we cannot see in this darkness?