Like so many people across America, I have been following the news of the past few days with horror and grief.
On Tuesday, Alton Sterling, father of five, was killed in Baton Rouge — approached by the police for selling CDs outside a convenience store. On Wednesday, Philando Castile, 32 years old, was killed outside Minneapolis — pulled over by the police for a broken tail light.
And last night in Dallas, during a peaceful protest related to those killings, a sniper targeted police officers — five have died: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. Their names, too, will be written on our hearts.
What can one say about events like these? It’s hard to know where to start. For now, let’s focus on what we already know, deep in our hearts: There is something wrong in our country.
There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be. No one has all the answers. We have to find them together. Indeed, that is the only way we can find them.
Let’s begin with something simple but vital: listening to each other.
White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about seen and unseen barriers faced daily. We need to try, as best we can, to walk in one another’s shoes. To imagine what it would be like if people followed us around stores, or locked their car doors when we walked past, or if every time our children went to play in the park, or just to the store to buy iced tea and Skittles, we said a prayer: “Please God, don’t let anything happen to my baby.”
Let’s also put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous job we need them to do. Remember what those officers in Dallas were doing when they died: They were protecting a peaceful march. When gunfire broke out and everyone ran to safety, the police officers ran the other way — into the gunfire. That’s the kind of courage our police and first responders show all across America.
We need to ask ourselves every single day: What can I do to stop violence and promote justice? How can I show that your life matters — that we have a stake in another’s safety and well-being?
Elie Wiesel once said that “the opposite of love is not hate — it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death — it’s indifference.”
None of us can afford to be indifferent toward each other — not now, not ever. We have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have a moment to lose. People are crying out for criminal justice reform. People are also crying out for relief from gun violence. The families of the lost are trying to tell us. We need to listen. We need to act.
I know that, just by saying all these things together, I may upset some people.
I’m talking about criminal justice reform the day after a horrific attack on police officers. I’m talking about courageous, honorable police officers just a few days after officer-involved killings in Louisiana and Minnesota. I’m bringing up guns in a country where merely talking about comprehensive background checks, limits on assault weapons and the size of ammunition clips gets you demonized.
But all these things can be true at once.
We do need police and criminal justice reforms, to save lives and make sure all Americans are treated as equal in rights and dignity.
We do need to support police departments and stand up for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.
We do need to reduce gun violence.
We may disagree about how, but surely we can all agree with those basic premises. Surely this week showed us how true they are.
I’ve been thinking today about a passage from Scripture that means a great deal to me — maybe you know it, too:
“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”
There is good work for us to do, to find a path ahead for all God’s children. There are lost lives to redeem and bright futures to claim. We must not lose heart.
May the memory of those we’ve lost light our way toward the future our children deserve.
Learn more about Hillary’s plans to tackle criminal justice reform: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/criminal-justice-reform/
Learn more about Hillary’s plans to prevent gun violence: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/gun-violence-prevention/