Not enough time has passed.
It’s been a week since five officers were gunned down in Dallas while protecting citizens of their community and their right to free speech.
One heinous and unimaginable act left five families without loved ones and a grieving community with five less heroes who dedicated their lives to serving others.
Seven days is not enough time to lift the collective sorrow, let alone begin healing. But one of those seven days was Sunday and thousands of people went to church. Thousands more prayed.
Vigils and pilgrimages to memorials drew people together to pay their respects. Services for healing were held throughout north Texas. Two presidents, government leaders and clergy gathered to honor the fallen officers and offer hope to the community who counted on them.
And, while the power of prayer and collective good intention is felt, not enough time has passed to put behind us the fear and sorrow. The regret and terror. Anger and despair.
We are human and we are feeling many things. One of them is powerless.
The day after the shooting, people began leaving food, water and heartfelt letters of appreciation at local police stations.
Families drew closer and parents answered hard questions from their children. Around the world people looked at Dallas with open hearts. We all felt the loss- and the sacredness- of this moment.
But we don’t really know what to do with it.
Because the change we want is so huge, we don’t know where to begin.
Amid the magnitude of emotions we feel now, it’s hard to imagine a single effort making a difference at all.
Yet, as a mother and grandmother I know that when one person changes for the better, the entire family benefits. And so it is with communities, small and large.
If each of us, who is sick of the way things are, did ONE thing each day to make the world a better place, we might just be unstoppable.
Here are three that I’ve seen work:
I have a friend who probably has not changed his political stance since I’ve known him, yet I have no idea what that position is. He is witty and savvy and he loves to talk. But he excels at listening. He is so focused on wanting to know what’s going on around him, he rarely voices an opinion. And I know he has one. We all do.
Listening without judgment is one way of trying to understand.
We often stop listening when we know what’s coming or we’re sure we’ll disagree. We confuse understanding a point of view with agreeing with it. We confuse sympathy with empathy.
Here’s my favorite explanation of empathetic listening in an animated scenario we can probably all relate to.
Stop ‘Naming and Blaming’.
When my granddaughter called her best friend a mean name, she received a quick and serious consequence from her mom. But the consequence that hurt (and surprised) my granddaughter the most was that her friend no longer wanted to play with her. She was devastated.
So, with as much compassion as she could summon, my daughter asked her,“Do you think calling your friend a name helped you solve your disagreement? Or do you think it made it worse?”
At ten years old she learned what we often forget:
Name-calling and blaming someone are not effective ways to solve problems.
Be part of the solution.
Among the first floral arrangements and balloons at the memorial outside the Dallas Police Department, was a small, handwritten note that read.
“Stop hating each other.”
We fear there is no solution, because we’re sad. We’re angry. We’re disgusted and we’re afraid. Behind every one of those emotions is a concern that we are destroying our communities.
We’re concerned our country will not be a place we want our children to live. That concern is what we still have in common.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown issued a public invitation to those concerned with police in their neighborhoods to become part of the police community.
In every community, even when people disagree, there is a common concern.
One child growing up without a father matters. One mother whose child dies matters.
I hope we step up.