I’m numb. I don’t think I’m alone.
The police shootings. The police shot. Too little time to think things through. Life to live. Family to visit.
The Facebook mêmes and (especially) the Tweets ring false and partisan. Maybe “tribal” is a better word. They don’t help make sense of it. Not really.
Then this luminous essay arrives from two blocks away from the Dallas police shootings. I already shared it on social media, commending it strongly. But then I re-read it and need to excerpt and comment a bit.
In a piece that generally doesn’t single out anyone for shame, this stuck out:
Each of the major presidential candidates is so divisive that it’s a blessing neither of them chose to visit. It’s also very sad: presidential election opponents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, even George W. Bush and Al Gore, could have (and probably would have) changed their plans and made an appearance in Dallas, after the worst strike against law enforcement in more than 100 years. This year, neither of the candidates has any place preaching healing or unity.
That’s a tragic benchmark.
The real split, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn knew, runs not between parties, races or religions. It’s the line that divides the human heart itself …
How bizarre it is to see a violent rampage on a monitor and recognize all the street signs, landmarks, storefronts … because all of it is still happening just two blocks down the street. When I finally walked the dog, my super warned me to make it brief: “There’s a least one active shooter still at large.” Uh, yeah, we made it brief.
… [U]ltimately, it isn’t the conflict between one group and another that causes chaos. In a lily-white society like 1930s Germany, or an all-black republic like 1990s Rwanda, we will still find sufficient divisions to make us hate each other, if that’s where our hearts incline. And incline there they will, if we don’t push back continually against the powerful currents that otherwise sweep us along — the world, the flesh and the devil.
The real split, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn knew, runs not between parties, races or religions. It’s the line that divides the human heart itself, between what we’re inclined to do because it is easy and obvious, and what our conscience tells us instead.
Every last little piece of the social chaos that feeds the crime that draws the cops, who fear for their lives and sometimes panic with tragic results, was born on the wrong side of that line ….
We cannot stay on the right side of Solzhenitsyn’s line. Not by ourselves. What unites us is our helplessness, our absolute need for Grace, which only comes in one color — the deep, rich red that flowed from the Cross.
* * * * *
“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)