A National Dialogue Must Start…

…and  this national dialogue must come to something pretty soon.

We cannot have citizens shooting Peace Officers in the street.

We cannot have Peace Officers shooting citizens in the street.

The National Dialogue must start and it must come to something very real very soon. Chants and shouted slogans in the street simply will not do. How do I know? They will not do because they have not done. To turn around the shouted slogan, changing one word, will not do, for the same reason.

Nor is it enough to say the offended persons should just not do the crime. There is no evidence the Peace Officers killed in Dallas committed any crime against persons of color. They were killed because they were White, wearing Blue.

There was no trial for the man killed by Peace Officers in Louisiana, nor the one shot down in his car in Minnesota. Juries decide guilt in America, in a court of law, not deputized persons in the street.

We must stop settling things by caliber of weapon. We are watching this nation tear itself apart, a killing at a time.

My wife and family and I helped raise a young black man. We love him like a son, Lilly White though we may be as a family. If he were to be shot, we would be devastated.

I married a young man and woman a few years ago, Chad and Kristin. Chad is now a Peace Officer, a giant of a fellow, with a good, good heart. If he were shot down, we would be devastated.

The National Dialogue must begin, now, and come to something more than chants and political rants. No one wants to talk about this unhappy subject, except, apparently, those who only want to talk. All of us must talk, now, yes, and face our prejudices, but we must do more than talk. We have to throw out all the stupid ideas we can muster, until we come to something, or several somethings, that will save lives and mend hearts.

Here is my stupid idea. If a black man alone in a car is a target of someone fearful of him, organize a community, an army of Old White People to ride with them, if to do so would take the fear out of a traffic stop for a Peace Officer. There are lots of us Old White Men. Put us in a car with Young Black Men, if that will save lives and ease fears. The nation rallied around the Designated Driver idea for persons who drink too much and then have to drive. If my shriveled Old White Man presence will save the young man we raised, I will ride with him.

I know it is a Stupid Idea. I offer it because we have to come to something and soon.

More than twenty years ago, a neighbor of mine came across the street and told me he wanted me to be his Police Chaplain. I served in that position for more than fifteen years. My children came to see our neighbor as their surrogate grandfather. They mourn him still and so do I.

I asked him what I could do as his Police Chaplain that would help the Police. He had a ready reply.

“Just come ride along with them, days and deep nights, whenever you can,” Roy Vaughn told me.

“You cannot believe what a difference it will make,” he added. And I did it for years.

 

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