Home from a late night Executive team meeting for my homeschooling co-op and watching a fun, motivating Periscope last night, I "block" someone that comments out of the blue on the scope about officers shot thinking it was some kind of mutant troll making up lies.
Then, as I finished a two year project for my beloved Homesteaders homeschooling ministry, I do the obligatory late night scroll on my FB feed and see just a few friends from Texas talking about praying and calling out to God for mercy on our country (crazy FB algorithm makes it so I don't know if they are talking about something new that has happened or the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile from the last few days).
I switch over to Twitter to check the trending hashtags to see what is happening and watch in shock seeing the events unfold in Dallas.
➡️ Seeing a video clip of Fox News showing close ups of officers down (before they realize what they were seeing and stopped).
➡️ Hearing the God fearing, loving family of the one civilian shot: A mother who is shot in the leg and pushes her closest son between two cars and the curb and covers him with her body. Lying there for a full 5 minutes before they are reached by a police officer who drags them away not even aware she had been shot. What does she think about in those five minutes? I know she is thinking about what every mom is thinking about: Where are my other boys? Are they hurt? Did they get to safety and the paralyzingly fear that can only grip a mother's heart in that moment when everyone panicked and scattered. When you can save one, but your mom heart is wrenched over your babies who were just outside your grasp. The 15 year old smothered (yes, smother's got mother in there) by his mom doesn't speak, but just grabs his aunt's neck when they greet him in the hospital. They found the other 3 sons: Two boys fled and were safe at the Hyatt as they can't be released due to the potential for harm as there is still a shooter holed up in a garage. One ran until taken into a stranger's apartment and called to let his family know he is okay. Can you imagine? Being at the hospital about to go into surgery frantic about your children. The sister being interviewed said she was so relieved to find her. But there was the normal response, "Why did you bring them there?" This mom just wanted her boys to be exposed to a [peaceful] protest and to be apart of the movement.
➡️ Watching a live press conference and hearing live that a fourth officer had succumbed to his injuries. Wondering if his family had a chance to say goodbye. Grieved.
➡️ Observing in admiration at how the officers without words gestured to each other which way they were going as they entered a parking garage to search out the snipers. It seemed somewhat familiar reminiscent of tv show, but real men and women who were under fire bravely doing their job.
➡️ Then, heartbroken seeing the tweets come in of a fifth officer who had just died just seconds after I scolded the Washington Post's Twitter account for posting pictures of algae from outer space (guys, get your silly auto posting app to stop churning out fluff during a crisis. Someone work on that algorithm, please).
➡️ No words just "groans inexpressible" as prayers, I crawl into bed after 3 am and search for something to read from MLK and found the speech Bobby Kennedy gave in Indianapolis back in 1968 to let everyone know that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. No Twitter, no cell phones, no net to give us minute by minute updates. Kennedy was telling the audience for the first time the awful news.
He quoted his favorite Greek poet, Aeschylus,
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
➡️ He is rallying a country divided to choose love and compassion in the face of murder, injustice and righteous anger. Choosing justice without hatred. Hate fuels revenge. He is doing what our leaders will hopefully do now in 2016. He didn't blame guns. He acknowledged that there is injustice in this country, but did not polarize it further by his remarks.
He says he had a family member killed by a white man. He knows the rage. I had to double back and read that again. He is speaking of his brother, John F. Kennedy, US President, shot down in 1963 in Dallas. The man who brought my father to this country from India to study at a University in the south. His ideals struck a chord deep in my father's soul and he came here for that optimism, and yet surprised by the racism he encountered at college. Sweet southern charm, but excluded from a fraternity due to his race. My Dad could laugh at it years later, but racism is not a one time thing, but a pervasive reality of being a minority. So he cut his hair and ditched the turban to fit in. Then, picking up his trunk sent from his home (Punjab in northern India) at the shipping office, he hears on the little radio that the President had been shot.
Weeping for the man whose ideals were strong enough to propel him to leave his family and his culture. (Incidentally, these were the only tears he shed until 21 years later when he received a call from the JFK airport police that I was found safe after being kidnapped by my mom in seventh grade for a few, harrowing days).
He just arrived after months of planning and his hero taken.
When I think of Bobby Kennedy being killed just two months after his speech, I wonder would his message be different? If I sit and stew on the irony and the uncanny sense of history repeating itself with the news of this last week. Fear, racism, injustice, revenge have not left the 1960s. It seems like history is doomed to repeat itself. We are deeply marred as a culture this side of heaven, but we are called to stand in the gap.
Stand and say as Martin Luther King, Jr. that we will work for peace and love in the midst of injustice.
Stand and speak out against violence, against racism, against brutality in any form.
"We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder."
Prophetic words for Dallas.
Here is Robert Kennedy's speech. Read these words for our day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some -- some very sad news for all of you -- Could you lower those signs, please? -- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King -- yeah, it's true -- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Thank you very much.
The video of this speech is at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/rfkonmlkdeath.html