After a week of shootings, finding a place for compassion

NPR.jpg

Dallas Police Chief David Brown pauses at a prayer vigil following the deaths of five police officers. Source: NPR.org

I remember as a kid seeing my parents walk away from the TV, shaking their heads in disgust as the news droned on in the background. Now I find myself in their shoes, fed up with one tragedy after another, wanting to change the radio station or stop scrolling my news feed but unable to escape the constant feeling that we’re all waiting for the next kill.

Here’s my reaction to the past week, plus a challenge to us all.

Heartbreak

It started Tuesday morning, July 5, in Louisiana. Alton Sterling.

It continued Wednesday night in Minnesota. Philando Castile.

The next night, five Dallas police officers and a Bristol, Tennessee, mail carrier.

With one shooting after another—plus recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and France just today—my heart literally hurts.

Another vigil. More tears. Another protest. More outcry. Another picture of the deceased on a happier day. … When does the madness end?

I know the Bible verses. I know Jesus has overcome the world. I know one day every knee will bow. I know He’s for us so who can be against us? I know He wins and good triumphs in the end.

But until then, I struggle with my own emotions over it all. I’m angry. And heartbroken. And about 10% afraid I’ll go to the grocery store one day and never come back.

It’s also getting closer and closer to home. The Minnesota shooting wasn’t far from my in-laws. The one in Tennessee is near my family. I’m beginning to feel like no one is safe, no matter how you live your life.

And that’s where I think there’s something deeper to learn here.

Compassion

I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man pulled over for a traffic stop. I don’t know what it’s like to be targeted for the uniform I wear. I don’t know what it’s like to have a gun in my face because someone feels threatened.

So how can I say what I would or wouldn’t do in those situations?

I learned years ago in journalism class that we all have our biases. Our race, gender, how and where we grew up all shape our thoughts and actions.

Even so, one thing we can all do is show compassion.

I know it’s hard to sort through the noise as the media pieces together this seemingly endless, jumbled chaos, but at the most basic level, people lost their lives. Today, dozens around the country are coping with the loss of a husband or wife, son or daughter, parent or friend.

It could have been your spouse or your child or your friend.

And while it’s tempting, I don’t think this is the time to shake your head and walk away. Talking about it with people who don’t look or think like you can get you out of your own bubble and help you see more than one side. (I’ve actually done that and it’s been enlightening.)

It may be touchy at first, but if we’re too afraid to talk about these things, we certainly can’t expect them to get better.

Whatever other emotions are coursing through our veins right now, now isn’t the time to set compassion aside.

Advertisements

One thought on “After a week of shootings, finding a place for compassion

  1. Pingback: Keith Scott: What do you do when a shooting hits home? | Blogging at Tiffany's

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s