Like so many others, I find myself sitting in shock and sadness at the news of yet more violence, this time as police officers were targeted and killed in Dallas. Of course that is all compounded by the senseless killings in St. Paul and New Orleans, where two black men were shot by police.
I am struck by the culture of fear that has compromised our country and world today. I pray that we will raise our expectations for the communities in which we live.
I think we must begin by declaring that we are all in this together. Law enforcement is not the adversary nor should police be collectively judged by the actions of few. During my life as a pastor, at each stop I have been blessed to have people in law enforcement as a part of my congregation. I do believe that most regard their service as a calling and that they really do want to bring peace and safety to our communities and to our world. I remember also when my church was hit by a series of break ins, how much comfort was brought by officers willing to walk through a dark building to make sure that others would be safe. We must never forget what police officers do for us.
At the same time we must also acknowledge that in a culture of fear there is a great inequity in the way citizens are treated. I dare say that the shootings in St.Paul and in New Orleans would likely not have happened if the individuals stopped had been white. The racism in our country is undermining, even destroying, the society we claim to be. A divided society is not a reflection of the kingdom of God. Faith communities must not only be willing to name injustice, but must be committed to work toward bringing people now living in fear of each other together.
Finally, I must say that the proliferation of weapons in our society has done nothing to increase safety and has done everything to heighten fear. On a bipartisan level, we must find a way to make this world more sane by making weapons less central to our way of life. It appears to me that the Second Amendment has begun to undermine the First , which ensures the right of free and peaceful assembly. I pray for our politicians to let common sense and desire for peace prevail over ideology.
I ask you all, even in our worship this Sunday, to hold those who grieve in prayer, to pray also for peace and justice to rise together, and to ask God to point us to a greater vision for our country and world.