Do the Right Thing
As I was on my way home, I listened to NPR News and their production of the Dallas Memorial to the five slain police officers. I listened and chuckled a bit as Chief Brown talked about his shyness around the young ladies of his youth, and his use of rhythm and blues tunes to calm his fears. How appropriate was his recitation of Stevie Wonder's song "As"? How prophetic, how timeless, how resonant for our own times. I agree with Chief Brown that Stevie has always had a way of saying just the right thing. The chief closed by telling the family members, the entire police department, Dallas citizens, and the country, "I'll be loving you always," a sentiment indeed meant for those one truly loves.
Chief Brown's words were the introduction to our country's chief, President Obama. I must say that rarely have I felt a leader put more of his/her heart into a speech. The president was eloquent and precise, as he covered every possible avenue of the current debate rifling through our nation. I can only imagine the time and thoughts that went into trying to get it right. Say the wrong thing, and he gives fodder to one side or the other. And even then, I am sure people will pick the speech apart and find fault. This has to be a difficult undertaking: trying to say just the right thing to everyone. It would be nice if we answered his call to come together and put aside whatever biases we have. One of the most profound things the president said was, "We need to forget about which side has been wronged, but do more to work together to do what's right." Those may not be the exact words, but that's basically what he said. I think it's true that we humans sometimes spend too much time blaming rather than acknowledging that yes, we know there's a problem, so now let's figure out how to get it solved.
The president mentioned how innate our feelings of bias are. If we're being honest, we have to admit that at some point in time we've felt some type of bias against someone, whether it was intentional or not. It could have been just a thought or a moment of weakness. We're all human, and none of us are perfect; therefore, it is likely that we have committed some wrong(s) in our lives, even if it was only in our hearts. I believe that one of the things that helps us to be good (or better) is when we acknowledge our faults and then begin to work on them. Perhaps this is what we need to do to move forward as a nation and as a society. Take this moment in our history and look inside, ferret out all those little biases and get rid of them once and for all. Surely this would help us in our jobs, in our interactions with each other on a daily basis.
I don't think it matters that we aren't born hating and despising and judging and being indifferent to one another. Yes, we picked up these bad habits along the way. And for this reason, we could just as easily put them down again - just let go of it all. Earlier, as I was sitting in my car, waiting for the president's speech to end, I saw two young boys ride by on their bicycles. One was white and one was black. They were laughing as they rode along, sharing in each other's joy, happy to be in each other's presence. They were totally oblivious to what is going on in Dallas and across the country. Neither was looking at the color of his skin or the other's color. They were just happy to be.
I really hope and pray that we can move forward, as a society of individuals, and understand that only together will we solve our problems. My heart bleeds for those individuals who lost their lives in such an undeniably senseless way. I believe the right thing to do now is for all of us to look inside and figure out the one or two things we can do (personally) to make a difference. Forget about blaming the next person, or looking over at our neighbor and asking what he/she is doing. What can each person do to make this right?