Another day, another tragedy. Last night I watched a horrific scene unfold in Dallas. This morning I am equal parts hopeful and appalled at the varied response to that scene.
A peaceful, lawful protest took place in Dallas last night, similar to others across the country. As the crowd was dispersing, someone suddenly began opening fire, raining down bullets from above, directed at police officers. Utter chaos ensued.
This morning we know that 12 officers were shot, 5 are dead, and 2 civilians were caught in the crossfire. A large section of downtown Dallas is considered a crime scene and is closed off. One shooting suspect was killed after an hours long negotiation broke down. His statements to police were that he was upset with Black Lives Matter, he wanted to kill White people, specifically White police officers, that he was not affiliated with any group and that he acted alone. This remains to be seen, as the investigation is far from over.
Today, my heart is heavy. Yesterday was tough enough as I sought to absorb the loss of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul. But the utter terror I watched unfold in Dallas last night was just too much. My heart is undone today. I am grieving.
I have so many thoughts running through my head right now; I don’t even know where to start. Words seem trite and useless, but words are all I have. I am a writer. I have fought the urge to use my writing to speak on social issues, wanting to live in the relative safety of motivational stuff, encouraging stuff. But part of this journey to wholeness is facing the brokenness head-on and calling it what it is. So I will use this platform to do what I can to contribute meaningful, thoughtful dialogue in the face of pain and suffering.
I am still processing all that has happened and how I feel about all that is happening in our world and in our country right now. My only thought right now is this: Social media can be a double edged sword when these things happen.
On the one hand, social media may have actually kept Castile’s girlfriend alive in the aftermath of his shooting. There have been instances where social media has helped law enforcement as they pursue criminals or deal with an emergency situation. Social media is invaluable during disasters and emergencies of any kind, providing a readily accessible outlet for people to let loved ones know they are okay, or to reach out for help if they are not.
But there is another side to social media. The side that polarizes people and reduces complicated realities into memes. And even if the meme is spreading a false narrative, it spreads like wildfire among those who agree with it. Judgement is passed, motives are questioned, slander abounds, and misinformation is treated as gospel truth. Reading the comment section of some of the posts has led me to the decision that it’s time to take a nice, long break from this madness.
Sometimes silence is golden. As with the Orlando shooting and its aftermath, time should be taken to grieve, to process, to let ourselves be human. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the police officers in Dallas were human beings, made in the image of God. Slandering the character of any of these victims while their families and communities mourn is deplorable. Turning this into a political talking point is ridiculous. Using one event to justify the other is just plain wrong. To grieve one is to grieve all. It is all senseless.
I have a right to remain silent. And so I shall. Only speaking when necessary, when I’ve had the chance to think and process and grieve. I think we all need time…