It is clear that we have a policing problem in this county. In fact, problem is too little a word. Many people of color fear for their lives whenever they see a police car. Alton Sterling and Philander Castile’s deaths exemplify this problem. If you’re a young black man, according to ProPublica, you are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than if you’re a young white man. You’re more likely to go to prison, to get harassed by police.
I thought, yesterday, we might finally be at a tipping point. Our country might finally realize that young black men are routinely violated and killed by police, with impunity and without question. I thought, maybe now we can do something about this.
And then Dallas happened. The Dallas Police force, if you haven’t heard, is an exemplary force: under the leadership of their commissioner, they have reduced the number of people shot by police and the number of excessive force complaints, all because the new commissioner has introduced de-escalation training and emphasizing community engagement. This is a department learning from its sins and the sins of their colleagues. That this police force, of all the police departments in the country, should suffer this attack can only be described as demonic.
And, because this happened, I fear that the moment is gone, and that things will get worse. Violence feeds violence.
I am a Christian, and so I believe that I must say this: when Jesus said, love your enemies, he meant it. And that is what Christians, if we are to be called Christians, must do. There is only one way to stop the cycle of violence, and that is by giving up violence. There is only one way to break the cycle of vengeance, and that is through forgiveness. There is only one way to ending injustice, and that is through justice. As Christians, we must do this, and never give up hope that good will prevail, that all the people in this country can live in peace.
That’s our job right now as people of faith—to figure out how to overcome violence with peace, hatred with love, fear with truth, vengeance with forgiveness.
I don’t know how to do it yet, but I believe it can be done.
The Reverend John Flack