Recent deaths of black men at the hands of authorities — Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in a St. Paul, Minn., suburb — and the murders of Officers Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith and Michael Krol by a lone sniper in downtown Dallas have drawn a myriad of reactions.
Some protestors and others anxious to do something have focused primary support on those grieving the deaths of the African Americans at the hands of police, including many who embrace the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
In communities all across the land, churches and other groups are focusing their efforts primarily on expressing care and support for law enforcement in their own communities. In some, restaurants have provided meals to police stations, churches have offered special prayer services for officers grieving the deaths of five of their own and mounting personal encouragement card campaigns to personalize response to local police and other responders.
More deaths of young black men at the hands of officers and the massive sniper assault on Dallas officers have prompted others to grieve every death. More and more people have taken up the mantra that “all lives matter.” Surely more and more agree that this cycle of escalating discord and related violence must be reined in.
In these three separate incidents there must be a concern that justice is served. Increasingly, constructive efforts to address the racial divide in America simply must be addressed. It is encouraging to see video clips showing protestors and police officers crossing the street toward each other and embracing. But the resultant steps must be more than isolated anecdotal actions, as heartwarming as they may be.
Churches have an opportunity to take concrete, personal steps to bridge this disgraceful gap in many ways. The nation is right to grieve over every death, not to make charged determinations about who deserves sympathy and who does not. That would be business as usual.
And business as usual in this national crisis solves nothing.
Missouri Baptist University and its students deserve commendation for engaging in dialog about interpersonal violence, learning to identify signs of abuse and helping male students to become “men of integrity” in treating women as God intended.
On the second Sunday of Advent, the lawn of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., will be covered with wooden crosses like one sees in a military cemetery. Each cross — about 75 of them — will represent one person in the community killed in violence during the year.
Photos of two smiling young adults — one a TV news reporter and the other a cameraman — showed two people who appeared to be vibrantly alive.
The headline above their pictures told something different: “Virginia TV reporter, photographer killed in shooting during live interview.”
Local news reporter Alison Parker, interviewing a woman for a story near Moneta, Va., and cameraman Adam Ward, filming the interview, were gunned down on live TV at about 6:45 a.m. on Aug. 26.
The interview subject, Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back and was rushed into surgery soon after viewers witnessed the shooting live.
As this blog is being written, authorities are searching for what is believed to be a single gunman who fired maybe six or seven shots. Only after the arrest will law enforcement have a clue about the motive.
Parker was 24 and Ward, 27.
On the surface, this appeared to be a senseless killing.
But acts of violence like this seem all too common, and they are happening all over. Children and adults — young and old — are being ambushed in public as well as in isolated places for whatever reasons — or sometimes no reason. Sadly, the results are predictable: shocking deaths and life-threatening injuries.
Perhaps we’re especially shocked because these atrocities happen in places not unlike where most of us live. These are not battlefield deaths. They are not always perpetuated in hotbeds of religious or racial hatred and discord, though violence in such places is bad enough.
Death to a young reporter and an almost-as-young cameraman in the process of what appears to be a noncontroversial — perhaps innocuous — interview suggests this kind of thing could certainly happen to our own loved ones, friends and even ourselves during our most routine activities.
When the alleged perpetrator is taken into custody, authorities may find a person with a history of mental illness, a person who is simply angry, one who craves some attention and goes about it in a tragic way or one motivated by any one of a hundred reasons.
What happened in Virginia and was for at least a few seconds broadcast live before studio technicians could stop the broadcast was horrific. And regardless of the shooter’s motive, it was senseless and should never have happened.
For the most part, we have no idea what to do to prevent such violence. To be sure, we in the human family must continue to look out for each other. Any part of our world can be a dangerous place.
Terror attacks in little-known pockets on the African continent often are overlooked in international reporting or are barely mentioned. But that was not the case with a horrific attack at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya on April 2 that left 148 people dead.