Wanted: Justice, healing, reconciliation; how do we get there?
When I was about 16, I was living in the Dallas suburbs and frankly getting into more trouble than I care to elaborate on here.
One night I rode downtown with friends to attend an event at the convention center called ZooWorld, a kind of festival sponsored by a local radio station that was supposed to have music, vendors, food and beer.
I say "supposed to" since we never actually made it all the way inside, because, unbeknownst to us, a riot was brewing. To this day I have no idea why. But as my group walked up to climb the stairs to go inside, we saw a row of police officers lined up at the top of the wide stairs leading into the arena, billy clubs in hand. It took a few moments to comprehend what was happening, and we ended up walking right into the middle of it.
The crowd at the bottom of the stairs was ugly booing and yelling, shaking their fists at the police, and the police were angry as well. I believe that for whatever reason the event had been shut down and they were kicking everyone out of the convention center.
So as we made it to the bottom of the stairs and began to fully grasp what was going on, the police suddenly charged down the stairs and went after the crowd. I was standing right at the bottom of the stairs on the edge.
A police officer came right at me and knocked me down in one motion. My first instinct was to come up swinging. I weighed about 100 pounds back then, and chances are that punch wouldn't have done much damage, and even more likely that I would have at best landed myself in the hospital or jail. Thankfully, the guy I was with picked me up and carried me off and we got out of there in a hurry.
This is just a story to tell, with no real moral to it, except perhaps that things can escalate in a hurry and the course of our lives can change in an instant. It didn't make me hate the police. I realized even then that I was at the wrong place at the wrong time and also that I had a guardian angel watching over me, because it could have been much worse, as I'm sure it was for others.
But as for the racial tension and violence that is happening right now, I am at a loss. Recently I watched the "O.J.: Made in America" series and was reminded of the terrible impact the Rodney King beating had on our society, the fallout that went with it, and the long-lasting effects that impacted the jury's verdict, and trickled on for years, in ways I'm sure most of us don't even understand or realize.
My heart aches for the families of all the victims in this ongoing tragedy. There is anger and frustration out there that is beyond most of our comprehension. It is apparent that there is a real racial disconnect and lack of understanding in what people of color go through on a daily basis. Then, senseless retaliation directed toward innocent law enforcement officers who were protecting citizens' right to protest injustice only serves to deepen the wide gap of pain and paralyzes a movement for healing that had barely got off the ground. It leaves us with a hopeless feeling as to what to do next.
Sometimes life seems like such a mess. But one thing I know for certain is that all lives matter. I pray for justice, healing, resolution and reconciliation.
Incidentally, I also pray that if my children get pulled over they will have their hands where they can be seen, with license and registration in hand. No guesswork.