Will we let violence and hatred become common sense?
To believe so, to say so, is to say war is inevitable or even to say we are already at war. It is to say our reality has become either /or. It is for us to say that the victory of some is dependent upon the defeat of others. It is to say that the ties that bind us will become the ropes with which we will hang each other.
One side of the presidential campaign has already staked out their answer. For them it is not just common sense. It is the only sense.
The murder of two innocent black men by police lay bare a reality that black people already know. Violence is easily and too often a daily threat for them. It is not just political rhetoric or conversation. It is a reality.
More and more people who are in some sense different – – rather it be the color of their skin, their religion, their social or cultural background, their financial status, their disability or diagnosis – – are finding that in some ways they are defined as dangerous by some parts of the dominant culture. And the result of that definition is that they are at risk of being hurt, being punished by people who think that violence is the “righteous”and natural response to the kind of people they are and the threat they supposedly pose. A society in which ordinary people fear the police because of some label attached to them is a society in trouble.
The movement for justice, is not, as some have said a movement for violence, but an argument for peace. It is a statement that we can and should and will do better because hatred and violence are not common sense. It is a call to open our eyes to realities that cannot change as long as we turn away and refuse to see. It is a statement of faith that the testimony of injustice can plant the seeds of justice.
The tragic death of the police officers in Dallas is testimony further to the lie. We have real problems in this country, problems that have been there a long time with many casualties. But murder solves nothing and violence only begats violence and Dallas was a crime. The loss of innocent lives is a tragedy any time, anywhere, for all of us. And we have way too much tragedy.
There is a problem with police violence in this country that will not be solved by being silent about it. It is about the experience of black people but it is more than even that. People with mental health issues are killed at an alarming rate in incidents that make you just want to scream. I read one person who described it as “de-escalation by gunfire.”
The challenge to all of us is to say that violence is not inevitable and that victory for any of us is not possible without victory for all of us. It is about not buying the narrative of hate. It is in knowing that those who preach it dishonor us all and destroy the very things they say they defend.
It is about safe places and better lives, but a safety not grounded in the harm of other people and better lives built on the truth that each of us matter. It is about a common commitment to the fact that violence and hatred are not common sense but no-sense and that care and compassion and justice in the end offer the future we all seek.