History is defined by eras. The fight for independence. Slavery. Civil War. World War. Women’s rights. Civil Rights.
What era are we living in right now?
The one where we can’t stop shooting each other.
It’s a horrible reality, but one day, we will be telling our grandchildren about the America we lived in, where mass shootings were a regular occurrence. Where the ubiquity of cell phone cameras conveyed the systematic and pervasive racism that exists in our country. Where the radical misinterpretation of the world’s second-largest religion drew misguided men and women to commit random, senseless acts of violence.
An America where not even police officers are immune from being victims of that senseless violence, as we tragically learned last week.
Whenever something terrible happens, I try to ease my grief by focusing on the future. By telling myself that in the aftermath, this time it will be different. That this tragedy will be the one that changes us.
And then another tragedy happens.
The fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas — Sgt. Michael Smith, Sr. Cpl Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krohl, Officer Patrick Zamarripa and Officer Brent Thompson, three of whom are former servicemen — was committed amid nationwide protests surrounding two separate killings of black men by police officers in St. Paul, Minn. and Baton Rouge, La., both of which were captured, at least in part, on video.
Those deaths, of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, appeared to have reignited the fervor of the Black Lives Matter movement. As I write this, protests are happening concurrently nationwide.
One protest, held Sunday in Baton Rouge, has provided us with a single photograph that some are already comparing to other poignant protest photos, such as one snapped last year at a neo-Nazi rally in Sweden, and of course, the never-identified man who stood in front of tanks in Tienanmen Square.
President Obama will speak in Dallas tomorrow, and reportedly will be penning his own speech, without the use of speechwriters. It’s something he has not done many times during his presidency, but when he does, it tends to be dramatic and powerful.
I think it’s arguably the most important speech Obama will ever give. It’s a very tenuous time in America right now. Tensions are high. People are afraid. And we’re smack dab in the middle of a very contentious presidential election.
With the nation’s eyes on him, Obama has the platform to calm the waters of our nation, while prodding us in a direction in which we can start looking towards. He must be compassionate but forceful, soothing but angry, and urgent but hopeful. I for one am very eager to see what he says.
A lot of people may find it hard to be optimistic right now. But optimism doesn’t necessarily have to mean expecting change tomorrow.
There’s optimistic and then there’s realistic.
Optimism is having faith in there one day being a better tomorrow. It may take years. It may take a decade. Or more. Perhaps it will be the next generation that instills change.
Change is a slow, arduous trek. But it can indeed happen.
But the sooner the better.
Let’s change the narrative that we will one day tell our grandkids.