I sat in my hotel room in Arlington, Texas, just a few miles outside of Dallas, hurt and angry as I watched the scenes of violence and terror unfold on the TV screen. We’d been walking those streets, my family and I, just hours before.
It had been peaceful. People were laughing, smiling and enjoying that good ol’ southern sunshine.
The people there are like fingerprints — not one person is the same. That diversity is absolutely beautiful to me. Hours later, that paradise was shattered as gunshots ripped through the lives of 12 innocent officers. The gunman said he wanted to “kill white people, especially white officers,” said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown, according to The New York Times.
He certainly did that.
Five of those officers are dead.
But the story doesn’t start there. It starts last week, in Louisiana and Minnesota, when officers shot two black civilians.
“He was upset about the recent police shootings,” Brown said, according to The New York Times.
Or maybe it doesn’t start there at all. Perhaps this started with Freddie Gray or with Trayvon Martin or with Black Lives Matter or with Blue Lives Matter or with All Lives Matter. That’s just it, isn’t it?
There has been so much violence, so much revenge and so much hatred that we really can’t remember why one side started shooting up the other in the first place. Events like this tempt us to be angry, to blame, to scream, to shout, to pass laws, to start movements and hide behind silly hashtags.
“Anger is easier than grief; blame is easier than real accountability,” said Brené Brown, a researcher and writer.
We want quick answers, instant solutions, a Band-Aid to make it all go away. We want to blame race, occupation, political viewpoints — all things that make us who we are, But the answer is more long-term than that.
We must love diversity, and we must love the people around us.
This isn’t love that’s mistaken for tolerance, passiveness or apathy.
This is the kind of love that says there is a right and there is a wrong.
This is the love that requires accountability of the one who does wrong and doesn’t blame the masses.
This is the kind of love where forgiveness is born and people are healed.
This is the kind of love that looks to God and not to government to solve the world’s problems. It’s not easy. Anger is always easier. It takes practice. It requires understanding that love means standing up for right, condemning wrong and nurturing the people in between.
Bad things are still going to happen, but we don’t have to let bad situations control us. The people who react with bloodshed, hatred and blame — black or white, gay or straight, religious or atheist, Republican or Democrat — they are slaves to every bad event in this world. They are slaves to anger.
Dallas is free to choose, America is free to choose, and you and I are free to choose. Your choice will either propel this cycle of violence or resurrect peace in our nation.
As for me, Dallas is still a beautiful city, full of beautiful, diverse people.
A man who tried to destroy that can’t take that away from us.