Times of Trouble

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. “ Thomas Jefferson

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have a friend, whom I love dearly, who says he is now afraid to leave his house, afraid to drive his car. He is afraid for the safety of his children. Several years ago, we became friends over discussions about The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. He and I are both seekers of how to be the best people we can be. Ron is a devout Christian, a family man; I am not a person of faith, I do not have a family. He is an African American in his 30’s; I’m a white woman in my 50’s. And yet we have become friends on so many levels. The same things inspire us, we question the same things, and now the past three days have made us heart sick, as everyone is. My friend is afraid to leave his house, in fear of his life. There is nothing I can say to allay his fear. I can tell him how much I care about him, for his family, and yet cannot imagine what he is feeling. How do I help my friend? IS my friend safe as a young black man in Chicago? Is he?

chicago_downtown_at_night_by_szelpuk-d249i7k

I am devastated by the ambush on Dallas Police Officers. The Dallas Police Force has been a leader in proactive training in de-escalation that has been successfully implemented. Those officers were there to support the peaceful protesters. They were not in riot gear, and instead in summer gear, intentionally as a supportive presence. Police and protesters were taking photos with each other in solidarity of the #blacklivesmatter movement. The protesters were not the problem. The police were not the problem. It was a good night, a peaceful night. Until it wasn’t. More killing. More targeting of a group of people. There is just nothing right about it. Their families are suffering, their colleagues are suffering. The protesters are suffering. All of these things I’ve seen on television in interviews over the past twelve hours.

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Gandhi

Police officers have an incredibly difficult job. There are millions of great cops around the country, serving their communities, putting their lives on the line to save others, and treating people with calmness and compassion. I know police officers like this, and I know you do, too. They inspire me with their service and their commitment to their communities. Looking through various sources on the internet there are countless stories of police saving lives even at their own peril. There are so many stories it’s impossible to even list them. This is what I want to think of when I think of the police. Is it my White Privilege talking? I need to do more soul-searching before I can answer that.

“When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement. That makes the job of good police officers unsafe.” Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the former chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Can we ask our local police force to step up publicly against what’s happening? I’d like to think we can. I’d like to hear from them they are also looking to be proactive, and to learn what they have been doing. As a community, I believe we deserve this.

There are millions of great cops around the country. Click To Tweet

This morning I saw an interview with Queen Latifah on the TODAY Show. It started as an interview about her role in an animated film; it ended with her incredible words that drew it all together for me:

Police officers –the many thousands of good police officers—need to rise up against the ones that are perpetrating crimes against humanity. As Queen Latifah said so perfectly, there should be no US and THEM, whether that is civilian or police officer; police officer or African American; white or black; Muslim or Christian. We have GOT to come together as a human race to help heal each other and figure this out.

I sat this morning, crying. There is a systemic problem in our country with black men being killed without cause. With white police officers being exonerated when even videotape proves differently. Should it cause a rift between the black and white communities? It has for some. I can see how it can. There is a long history of black men being mistreated, unfairly imprisoned, and unjustly murdered. Anyone remember the story of the lynching in Duluth? And the smiles of the white supremacists who were proud of themselves? Other stories go back further – much further – in time. I am sickened that people can hate one another without even knowing them.

There are quotes I found to help myself process all of this. I hope they may help you, too.

From Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. “

From the Buddha

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. “

“Better than worshiping gods is obedience to the laws of righteousness.”

From Jesus Christ

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

“So watch yourselves: If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. If they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent’, you must forgive them.”

From Mahatma Gandhi

“My life is my message.”

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

From Malcom X

“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

From Rabbis

“I don’t speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent” Rabbi A.Y. Kook

“If I am not for me, who is for me; and if I am (only) for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers

From the Quran

“Indeed, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.”

From authors

“The only thing that is going to save mankind is if enough people live their lives for something or someone other than themselves.” Leon Uris

“Everyone can look inside his or her soul and decide what he or she can do to make a world at peace, to end this fighting that goes on every day around the world.” Ruth Gruber

“I don’t think life is absurd. I think we are all here for a huge purpose. I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for.” Norman Mailer

From politicians

“… let us understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white and Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win.” Bernie Sanders

“Honest discussions – even and perhaps especially on topics about which we disagree – can help us resist hypocrisy and arrogance. They can also help us live up to the basic ideals, such as liberty and justice for all, on which our country was founded.” David Price

There is no way to justify the things that are happening in our country right now. I am pro #blacklivesmatter and pro #bluelivesmatter. We can be both.

And I leave you with this after a week during which we need hope:

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About the Author

Catherine Verrilli

Catherine is the #unitecloud Advisory Board Chair. She is a professor of music at St. Cloud State University where she teaches Music in World Cultures, Music History, and Voice. As a singer she made her Carnegie Hall Debut in 2012 as a member of Trio Lorca. A native of Connecticut, Catherine has been married almost 30 years and is happiest the presence of animals. She and her husband moved to St. Cloud in 1999 from Washington, D.C.