Over the past few weeks the news has been filled with one shooting after another. As I thought about these events and what the motivation could have possibly been to want to kill another human being, I began to think about the families who have lost their loved ones. The children whose father or mother will never walk in the door again, or a spouse, son, daughter or friend. Their lives have been altered forever. I saw an interview with the 9 year old daughter of one of the Dallas, TX police officers who had died in the shooting. The grief expressed from that child as she recounted the last time she saw her Dad before he left for work…he said to her “What if this is the last time you ever kiss me or hug me?” I know the devastating grief of waking up one morning to the news that your husband is dead and having to tell your young children that their father will never walk in the door again, that their father is dead. What I didn’t have to do is explain the reason that he is dead, is someone wanted to kill him because of hatred and prejudice for who he was, the job he held and the color of his skin. That is unimaginable, yet Mothers are having to explain to their children that very thing. Let alone all of the spouses and family members who are having to try and comprehend the reason for the death of their loved one.
We are a nation that has lived in racial turmoil for hundreds of years. Many have fought for the freedom to be who we are no matter our gender, race, religion or whom we chose to love. Has that fight for freedom been for nothing? Are we as human beings going to ever find within us where we can “love thy neighbor” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? When will this violence end?
Are we doomed to destroy ourselves because we are unwilling to see each other as human beings first and foremost? Or are we going to take a stand and oppose the prejudices that may still be lurking within ourselves and say “enough”…that the violence and hatred must end. We must be the change. There is no later elsewhere or waiting for someone else to solve the problem. You may be thinking “I’m not prejudice”, or “I don’t hate anyone”, or “I would never hurt another human being”. but unless we oppose the prejudice, hatred and violence, then we are no different, we are agreeing for it to continue. After the shooting last year at the church in Charleston, SC, Malala Yousafzai was interviewed and what she said during that interview, I think is even more relevant today….”Sometimes we wait for others and think Martin Luther King should raise among us, Nelson Mandela should raise among us and speak up for us, but we never realize they are normal humans like us – and if we step forward we can also bring change just like them.”
It is up to each and every one of us to step forward to bring change to our world. Let’s be that change.