Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the mass shooting event in Chattanooga. Five service members died a year ago at the hands of someone who believed the only way to expiate his sins was through the blood of other people. Last week I had talked about the epidemic of people being killed. Unfortunately that trend is still continuing. As of this morning, three police officers in Baton Rouge were attacked and murdered. At this point, much is still unknown about who did this shooting or even how many people were involved. Over the next days and weeks more details will emerge on the who and why but the situation is still the same: people are dead at the hands of other people.
The ongoing violence in our country appears to be escalating. We seem to be stuck in a spiral of ever-increasing numbers of shootings. As a country we are becoming increasingly polarized and less empathic with people outside our groups. Demonization of people outside our circles is more common and a spiraling trend of violence seems to be rising from this.
As humanists we should recognize when people want to divide us into groups and set us against each other. We should call out when we recognize an attempt to place a false dichotomy upon us. All lives do matter but we need to recognize when a portion of the population is suffering in far greater proportion than the rest. Currently, black men are far more likely to be pulled over by police, are far more likely to be arrested, and are far more likely to be injured or killed when they encounter police. We need to recognize that if all lives do matter, we should look to those who suffer the most and we should help them first. If we can reduce the number of incidents where black men are injured or killed, we can reduce the number of shootings overall. People want you to divide you by saying if you say “black lives matter” then you are automatically against “blue lives matter”. This is a false dichotomy. You can be dismayed by the deaths of police officers AND by the deaths of young black men at the hands of the police.
Time and again, I have seen that people do not act until they are directly affected. Do you want to wait until someone you know has been killed? A acquaintance? A friend? A family member? How long until someone you know is a victim?