08 July 2016

What have we done?

Anyone remember those days?
When there was humanity...
 Bleary-eyed and not ready to start my day, I rolled over this morning and as is my ritual, I grabbed my phone to get a take on the overnight events as that helps frame the way my work day is going to go. Based on the home screen full of alerts, I instantly regretted opening my eyes. Scrolling through the updates from the various outlets I follow, I found myself overwhelmed. Again.

Five police officers dead in Dallas. The largest loss of law enforcement life since 9/11. Scenes of people running for their lives during a peaceful march as the terrifying but all too familiar soundtrack of semi-automatic gunfire played in the background filled my newsfeed.

Just a day before as I rode into the city on the train, I was gutted watching the footage of a black man, bleeding to death in the front seat of a car. The bright red blood stain seeping across his white t-shirt was as jarring as it was sickening.

As the events of the last few days have played out, I've asked myself one question: What have we done? And by we, I mean us. I mean we fellow human beings. When did we decide that all this was A-OK? When did we decide that humanity - compassion, kindness, understanding, sympathy, tolerance - no longer has a place among us?

Was it when 49 mostly gay Latino men were slaughtered in a nightclub in Orlando?
Was it when seemingly countless young black men have been killed while in police custody or at the hand of the local neighborhood watch psychopath guy?
Was it when a privileged white young man gets a literal slap on the hand for a vicious rape?
Was it when we decided that we were totally OK with the slaughter of twenty school children and six teachers in an elementary school?
Was it when we decided poverty, both here and around the world, is not our problem?
Was it when we decided it would be super fun to have a racist, bigoted, misogynist who literally spews divisiveness at every turn run for president?

Our recent history does not build a case for evidence of our humanity. Were we on trial for a lack of humanity, the evidence would be so overwhelming that it would redefine the concept of an "open and shut case" for perpetuity. No amount of wringing our hands, hash tagging, or, and as a man of faith it pains me to say this, praying, will seemingly turn the tide. Trust me, too, that the irony of me writing this very missive, which will be tweeted with a hash tag, is not lost on me.

If we are to bring back a shred of our humanity, it must come from each of us individually. It comes from us taking action, from doing something. It will come from us showing compassion and kindness. Alan Paton, a South African anti-apartheid activist, said, "There is only one way in which we can endure man's inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one's own life, to exemplify man's humanity to man."

Perhaps if we took Mr. Paton's advice to heart, we might stop seeing scenes like this:

EMT's at work at the Dallas shooting
Maybe we can one day turn the tide on this tsunami of inhumanity, so we can stop asking, "What have we done?" and can proudly say to our children, or grandchildren, "Look what we did."

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