I am spending time today reflecting on the death of five police officers in Dallas. Two civilians also died in this shooting that took place the evening of July 7. Words cannot describe the depth of my feelings. Let these five devotional thoughts be a beginning:
1 My prayers are with the five police officers who gave their lives in serving the Dallas community. Lord, hear my prayers for these officers and their families and friends. Lord, hear my prayers for all the officers who put their lives on the line each and every day protecting citizens—both black and white. Hear our prayers!
2 My prayers continue to be with the two young men who were shot in Louisiana and Minnesota:
Hear our prayers for Alton Sterling (37) shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Be a source of strength for his family and friends.
Hear our prayers for Philando Castile (32) shot near St. Paul, Minnesota. Surround family and friends with your love.
3 My prayers for the communities around this country struggling with a wide range of race-based issues dividing us as a nation. I pray for those who fail to see this as an issue that belongs to all of us. From the co-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Tawnya Denise Anderson, who had this to say on Facebook on July 8th.
“For those of you who ask “How long?” or “How many times must this happen?” I’ll tell you precisely when it… will stop. It will stop when people en masse are aware of the ways in which whiteness/white supremacy have shaped the way people of color are viewed, engaged, and treated in this world (even by other people of color). To come to this realization, however, white people will then have to be self-aware and convicted of the ways in which they have benefited from and promulgated the lie of whiteness. As necessary as this is for the well-being of society, it is also an uncomfortable undertaking and there is literally nothing forcing white people to do it. White people, then, will likely have to create the force.
White people, you have heard it said that you must talk to other white people about racism, and you must. But don’t talk to them about their racism. Talk to them about YOUR racism. Talk to them about how you were socialized to view, talk to, and engage with people of color. Talk to them about the ways you’ve acted on that socialization. Talk to them about the lies you bought into. Talk about the struggles you continue to have in shedding the scales from your eyes. Don’t make it “their” problem. Understand it as your own problem, because it is. To not do this would put you in danger of being yet another well-intentioned racist, convinced of their own goodness and living a life wholly unexamined and unaccountable to anyone. We don’t need anymore of those. It’s confession time.”
Yes, Lord, I have to acknowledge that I too am complicit as a citizen of this world with these issues that divine us. As a white male, I have not always had an open heart and mind to hear what others of various races and religions and cultures are saying about these deep-rooted conflicts that divide us. Hear my prayers for my brothers and sisters struggling to understand what it will take to mend deep wounds in bringing about unity and peace.
4 I look to what President Obama had to say this morning, once again, in responding to these tragic shootings.
“I spoke this morning with Mayor Rawlings of Dallas to convey the deepest condolences of the American people. I told him that the federal government will… provide whatever assistance Dallas may need as it deals with this tremendous tragedy.
We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement. Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs, keeping people safe, during peaceful protests. These law enforcement officers were targeted and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded, some are in serious condition and we are praying for their recovery.
We are horrified over these events and we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas.
According to police there are multiple suspects. We will learn more about their twisted motivations, but let’s be clear there is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement.
Anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.
Yesterday I spoke about our need to be concerned as all Americans, about racial disparities in our criminal justice system. I also said yesterday our police have an extraordinarily difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion.
Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us.
We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead we are going to have to consider those realities as well. In the meantime our focus is on the victims and their families.
Police across America, it’s a tight knit family, feels this loss to their core, and we are grieving with them. As a nation let’s remember to express our profound gratitude to our men and women in blue, not just today, but everyday.”
5 Finally, love is that which binds us together and builds us up. Hate is not the answer. Love is the bond that will unite us in times of national strife. “God is our refuge and strength—a very present help in times or trouble….” (Ps. 46).