Dear Loving God,
My heart is heavy. Everyday brings another heart breaking story: terrorist attacks in countries where the people have already suffered and seen so much war and destruction; the death of another person of color by a police officer, the murders of police officers, not to mention the other small acts of violence and murder that don’t gripe the nation or world media, but which cause irreparable damage and suffering. Each act of violence leaves behind a slew of victims; not just those who died, but family and friends who are left to mourn and try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Children without fathers and mothers, mothers and fathers without their children; lives all cherished by God snatched in seconds because of hatred, violence and fear.
My heart also breaks for those who engage in acts of violence. I am overwhelmed by the anger, fear, and hatred that cause some to view other people that are a different skin color, or have different religious beliefs, as such dangerous threats that they are to be killed. I am devastated that there are some people who believe that the only way to gain justice, the only way to counter hatred and violence, is by taking the lives of innocent people. The individuals who engage in these acts of violence are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons. They too, are beloved children of God.
I cry for Adel Jaf, one of 175 killed in a terrorist attack in Baghdad July third. I weep for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two of many men throughout the last few years that have been killed by police under questionable circumstances. I mourn for the five officers murdered in Dallas: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens.
It grieves me that as a society-we believe certain lives are worth-less than others. Those who are killed in Baghdad-whether by terrorists or by western forces-often become nothing more than a number to be rattled off in a news article. Their lives and stories are erased. It pains me that those killed by police-are often portrayed as criminals and thugs -regardless of their criminal history or lack thereof. By virtue of their past or skin color, their lives are viewed as easily discarded. And I am devastated that Micah X Johnson in response to the racism and hatred that he railed against, decided that the best way to deal with his anger and the injustice that he saw, was to go out and shoot and kill five police officers. His actions, as well as his own death, have left scores of people mourning: the family and friends of police officers, and his own loved ones.
I find myself asking with the psalmist, how long O, Lord? How long O’ Lord until your children learn to value and care about each and every life? How long O’ Lord until we reject the myth that violence saves and brings justice? How Long O’ Lord, until the tears stop?