Dear God, today we pray for sanity. There’s so much fear. I think of two of the wisest voices we have, Ta-Nehisi Coates (the best writer on race in America – Between the World and Me), and Dr. Bobby Smith (handle Visions of Courage, a blind cop who was shot in the face at a highway checkpoint by a wanna-be cop killer). How I pray everyone could read their books.
One of the greatest blessings of my life was being Bobby’s eyes to write his book The Will to Survive. He shared stories I’ll never forget… about how even the most pure-hearted cops struggle to keep their hearts open amidst so much pain. Imagine, you love a neighborhood and move into it with your wife. But on your rounds, you answer domestic abuse calls where in this house, a man bloodied his young wife; in another, a dog was abused, in one more, a cigarette was put out on a child’s head. Suddenly the neighborhood/town is no longer a haven in this man’s mind. Kids scream at him and call him PIG and there’s nothing he can do.
That cop comes home from work and his wife, smiling, says: “How was your day, baby?” Does he tell her the truth? If he does, how will she handle his reality? Will she lose her sense of optimism and wonder? Will she fear her fellow man? Often, he silences his words, tries to handle his stress alone, to his mental and emotional detriment. Cops have some of the highest suicide, substance abuse, and divorce rates. And sometimes–rarely, statistically–they snap, become ticking time bombs of panic and fear and danger.
Fear, as we know, is what every black person alive feels in this country. To quote Ta-Nehisi in his letter to his son: “And I am afraid. I feel the fear most acutely whenever you leave me. But I was afraid long before you, and in this I was unoriginal. When I was your age the only people I knew were black, and all of them were powerfully, adamantly, dangerously afraid.”
Thank you, God, for easing our fears. For filling our hearts with empathy, calm, and the light of your love.
P.S. Let’s be like The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah and be “pro cop AND pro black.”