another night of horror

Last night, another deadly (will this, I dread, be daily?) horror. During a public demonstration in Dallas, Texas, hundreds of marchers walking in peaceful protest against the days before police-involved killings in Minnesota and Louisiana, shots rang out.

The assailant. A sniper.

The target. Police officers. Several were wounded. Five are dead.

The day. The deadliest for law enforcement in the city of Dallas and one of the deadliest in the history of American law enforcement.

The reason. As yet, not fully known. Although a nearly conspicuous immediate speculation, if not conclusion, might name the cause as a violent, vengeful reaction to fatal encounters with the police. There is and can be no justification for this wholly unconscionable, utterly contemptible attack.

I grieve for the slain and wounded officers, for their families, friends, and fellow officers, for the city of Dallas, and for (again, I must write, for I, over time, have learned and deeply internalized at my soul’s depth the necessity of including) all of us who love life, our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of all, for all lives matter and who, therefore, hate violence and vengeance.

In this spirit of revulsion, I reflect on the tellingly prophetic words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.[1]

In the Spirit of love, I remember names. Names are important. For me, the most important words I know, for they bear the power of recognition and recollection of our incredibly individual, yet wondrously common, sacred humanity. So, as it was and is essential that I remember Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the men killed by police in these immediate previous days, it is and will be equally imperative that I memorialize Brent Thompson, 43, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer; to date, the only identified victim of last night’s deadly assault.

In that same Spirit-love, I pray that we, as Americans, with our nation, our very selves so terribly, tragically divided, whatever our thoughts and feelings, opinions and convictions about police killings and the killings of police, will not be driven to fear or given to greater suspicion of “the other.” Rather, still within the bright light cast by our annual July 4th national celebration of the ideal (still to be realized fully) of our unity in liberty, that we will gather the bloodied threads of this and all tragedy to create, indeed, to recreate a bond of our common destiny.

To do that, I believe, is to make America great again. To do that is to hear and heed another of Martin’s prophetic teachings: We must live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools.



[1] Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), page 67

3 thoughts on “another night of horror

  1. Paul,


    Thank you for remembering and using the names of everyone who lost their lives. I wish I could be as great as you are with names and I know how important names are to you.

    Thank you for continuing to share your now daily words with us, as you know many are reading and holding your words close to our hearts. Being far away from an actual church at the moment I read your words in my place of peace at the water to try to make sense of this mess.

    I think the state of the racial issue in this country is blatantly clear when the killing of two African-Americans spurred an angry 25 year old man (with no criminal history) to get a powerful weapon and then use it as a sniper to ambush police officers protecting a peaceful rally. I’m flat out terrified to think of what could come next.

    In an hour I will thankfully be surrounded by kids and adults laughing & playing! I’m so looking forward to the distraction, the love and the laughter! We need it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loretta, I imagine you sitting waterside at your place of repose (I recall the picture you posted of that lovely setting). I pray you found some peace, for, at a time like this, I find little sense to be made. Perhaps at some future time when the anthropologists, psychologists sociologists, and historians have weighed in, we all may have some perspective to comprehend these too-fast-whirling events. For now, I fall back on my now daily recommitment to strive to be and to do love and justice. And for you, thank the merciful heavens for the joy of kids and adults at play! Much love


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