When people do too little, police must do too much

           Americans had almost resigned themselves to inevitable daily doses of murder and mayhem; like terrorism, it’s part of the new normal.  But just when senseless violence was becoming routine, America was jolted by the ruthless assassination of five Dallas Police officers on the heels of police officer involved shooting deaths in Louisiana and Minnesota.

            These tragic events have stirred intense debate across all media but with little consensus.  Predictably and sadly, the battle lines usually tend to racial lines.  Despite President Obama’s wishful thinking that “we’re not as divided as we seem,” a recent NYT/CBS poll found 69% of Americans rate race relations as “bad.”  When we can’t even agree “all lives matter,” the divide is a chasm.

            Demands for a national conversation on race relations are too narrow.  Race is an easily identifiable dimension, but it’s not the main factor driving America over the cultural cliff into societal chaos.  American society is sliding off the road because we are abandoning God; we avoid charity and eschew morality.

We need a discussion on American society and faith, but few are discussing with most accusing and posturing.  In his Dallas eulogy, President George W. Bush probably grasped the dilemma best:  “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

Stereotypes are unacceptable, but dominant experiences are being eclipsed by the exceptions.  Police brutality exists to some degree, but there’s no evidence it’s endemic.  Crime by group is higher for minorities, but it cannot be concluded crime is a habitual condition for minorities.  However, the ugliest incidents get the most attention and are used by too many to endlessly point fingers. 

The disgusted masses retreat to their corners hoping it will all go away or at least not find them.  The disagreement is left to the emotional extremes; and then misunderstanding begets misunderstanding, stubbornness begets stubbornness, and eventually violence begets violence.

While the debate to assign blame can rage ad infinitum, progress can only be made when Americans humbly turn back to God, truly care for one another, and individually commit to engage. 

First and foremost, only God can heal and bless America, so we the people must pray for His forgiveness and ask for His help.  Second, we must love our neighbors in deed not just fleeting words.  Charity begins at home but then to our communities.  This does not mean more government programs.  Charity requires individuals commit to personally help individuals.   

            This ultimately all breaks down to Jesus’ two greatest commandments:  “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” and “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”  When you love God with all your heart, you are inclined to please God and refrain from disappointing God.  The first commandment inspires us to seek higher standards of conduct which results in a more moral people naturally less disposed to crime.

            The second commandment leads us to step out and help our neighbors.  Our communities will certainly be better for it, but it won’t preclude trouble.  However, when trouble comes at least we will know our neighbors, so while perhaps disappointed or even broken hearted, the urge to demonize our neighbors will be greatly dissipated.  The people of Charleston showed genuine grace last year.

            In a heated Springeresque melee on Fox’s The Kelly File, Black Lives Matter activist Jessica Disu bluntly declared, “We need to abolish the police.”  She made that demand on her assumption police are the problem, but if everyone would follow the greatest commandments and restore charity and morality, the need for the police would be considerably diminished.

            Dallas Police Chief David Brown is right; we ask the police to do too much.  It’s time we help ourselves, each other, and our communities.

            “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”  Leviticus 19:18



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