The tragedies of Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas serve as the latest reminders to all of us that we are our brother’s keeper, and that when we fail to talk with, understand, and care for one another, our prejudices and anger take over.
The result is all too foreseeable. With remarkably easy access to any weapon of choice in our nation, we count the victims in cities and communities every day — men, women and children; innocent civilians on the street as well as police officers protecting those exercising their First Amendment right to protest; those visiting a movie theater; and children simply attending school. Violence begets violence and prejudice breeds malice. Unchecked, all of it leads to the loss of human dignity, safety, and thousands of innocent lives every year.
We witness so many random acts of violence because we too often fail in our daily and communal responsibilities to exhibit more random acts of kindness and love. We leave countless victims caught in the crossfire of an uncaring or, in some cases, unaccountable family, school, and community. This creates so many more casualties harmed than in the crossfire of weapons used as horrific substitutes for unmet dreams and unleashed on alleged scapegoats for an aggressor’s lot in life, or worse, to impulsively end someone’s life due to stereotypical notions of perceived threats by groups of people that an individual, official, or institutional aggressor has never taken the time to understand.
Now, more than ever, we need to pause and reflect on what we can do in our own lives and the life of our city, state, nation, and world to foster true tolerance, in deed as well as word. We need to increase understanding as well as dismantle systemic barriers that have existed for decades and preclude real conversations about community realities, generational poverty, pervasive prejudice, and implicit bias. And it is imperative that we better decide how we go about lending a hand to those in need, cast out of society’s mainstream because of the color of their skin, country of origin, sexual orientation, or economic class.
We are all human. As John Kennedy said, “We all breathe the same air.” One day, hopefully soon, we will come to understand that if each of us is good enough for God, we ought to be good enough for each other. Our hearts go out to the families of the senseless shootings in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, as with so many others who have come before them.
Rick Glazier is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Justice Center.