When the sniper started shooting in Dallas, I, along with thousands of other citizens, sat speechless staring at the television. Realizing what was happening, not wanting to jump to conclusions, but feeling a combination of devastation and rage because I knew the conclusions I was instinctively jumping to were right, and I was so sick and tired of the violence. There is nothing more agonizing than watching a frustrated and psychologically impaired human being taking things into their own hands, by one-upping their interpreted enemy. Watching the scene unfold and the death toll rise made me think about this entire argument, this back and forth about whose lives matter more, and the random people who seem eager to step up, to self appoint as the one who decides whose lives matter.
Regardless of what you wear to work, the color of your skin, how you treat others, everyone serves a purpose in this world, at least that’s how I see it. Kind and generous people spread joy and understanding, bring light to the lives of others. Difficult people bring challenges and education to those they cross. Without hardship many would never know the true joy of success and accomplishment. Without sadness and loss many would never appreciate the simple pleasures of a sunny day, good friendship, a supportive companion. And these rough roads, the paths that many of us struggle are usually made possible not only by our own choices but by the decisions of others, and more often than not we can’t piece together the why of any of it. Trying to understand why people do what they do is a fruitless search in a gigantic hardware store for a fresh loaf of bread. The odds of you finding what you are looking for are slim, and even if you think you find it, it’s not going to be what you thought you were looking for.
But that doesn’t stop most of us from shaking our heads when things happen, and sometimes focusing on the ludicrousy removes the weight of responsibility some of us feel when it comes to changing others. Even if it’s just changing a line of thinking, the urge to educate is strong with some. Some resort to endangering themselves and others standing in traffic holding butcher paper with words scribbled. Some resort to personal attacks and threats on social media. Some resort to violence, not realizing that this closes more minds than it opens. Instilling fear in others has never been a successful education tool, and although screaming, fighting, and killing may provide an instantaneous rush of power and superiority in someone with a delayed mental capacity, these inclinations rarely if ever assist in the evolution of the human race towards the peace, understanding, and camaraderie that everyone insists is the common goal. These decisions are not made in light of educating others, fostering understanding, and instilling momentum towards common ground and progress. These acts are of a pure selfish nature, it’s what one does because it will temporarily fill the void created by the frustration of not being taken seriously, feeling unheard, ignored. A brief flirtation with the illusion of control.
Those people who had to stop their vehicles on the highway when you walked in front of them with phrases written on butcher paper, their minds were not changed. You did not win their sympathies and support. What if the man in the SUV, who is now 25 minutes late, was on his way to his third job interview in a week, and if he doesn’t get this one he may lose custody of his kids. What if the elderly couple in the sedan was on their way to the hospital, hoping they make it in time to say their last goodbye’s to their grandson who was in a car accident and was losing his battle with his injuries. Countless others had their lives temporarily stopped, and put in jeopardy, by the selfish acts of a frustrated few who have refused to pursue constructive avenues to make change. Getting the world to stop and hear what you have to say, even though you’re not saying anything that hasn’t already been said. No problem solving going on here…these are steps backwards, not forwards..
The officers that were killed by this angry and delusional man were not officers with a history of racial profiling. They were not harassing the protesters, screaming profanities or slurs, shaking their canisters of OC spray looking for a reason to push the button. These men were friends of this movement, this belief that everyone’s right to live and breathe and survive here is equal and deserved. They were outstanding representations of what every departments’ officers should exemplify. They were officers that exuded excellence both in and out of uniform, and served all citizens fairly and equally to the law. They were killed one by one, while standing next to and in front of all the other lives, regardless of skin color, that equally matter. Picked off one by one by a man whose only prerequisite for a target was something shiny on the chest. A man who was angry about things that he had limited information about; things that were happening in another place at another time; so clouded in rage that he could never have realized he was doing more harm to this potentially life changing movement so many have embraced, some for the wrong reasons. But his choices serve as a reminder that many who scream about unfair treatment, profiling, and ignorant judgements based on superficial and physical attributes are just as guilty of the same mentality that they condemn in others. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
I wear a different badge, but it is a badge none the less, a symbol of authority in a certain regard that I take very seriously. Animal Control and Humane Law Enforcement Officers are regularly disrespected, spoken down to, disregarded, and downright hated for no other reason than our career choice, our decision to stand for what’s right, and our determination to hold the public accountable for their decisions when it comes to animals. More than ever anyone with a badge is a target for disdain, disrespect, and now death, and I think everyone should be more than a little disturbed by that fact.
Regardless of where you stand and what you believe, I think we can all agree one one thing. The assumption that looking a certain way or doing a certain job automatically makes you less of a person, and therefore less deserving of fairness, understanding, and compassion, is far too common and needs to stop. And my goodness, violence should never, never be the answer.
Let it Begin With Me.