Broken heart

To the Editor:

My oldest daughter shocked me out of another day of work and juggling of her younger siblings’ schedules with a text message that did nothing to hide her anger at the USA.

Born in Europe and now working with Teach for America in Florida, she is horrified by the rising tide of gun violence and shootings across this country. What nation are we creating for the generations to come?

While she was particularly upset by the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, she knows that our national horror goes much deeper than that. Mass killings, acts of terror and the targeting of people based on color, religion and sexual orientation are tragic symptoms of the divides that are ripping our nation apart. White vs. black, conservative vs. progressive, police vs. community, the list goes on and on.

And it seems to be no different internationally. Paris, Turkey, Bangladesh – we are being rift open by acts of violence often perpetrated in God’s name and which have absolutely nothing to do with the core spiritual values Christianity, Judaism and Islam share – love of neighbor, hospitality for the stranger, care of the most vulnerable.

But from Brexit to blatant racism and anti-Semitism in this presidential campaign, our political leaders and “wanabees” only continue to drive wedges of hostility between us. Fear and hate sell. Audacity and offensive behavior dominate headline news.

So when anger and hate are what predominates in campaigns and on our airwaves, why are we surprised by mass murder in Charleston, Orlando or Iraq?

The killings of Sterling and Castile – just as Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice before them – offer further, tragic example that there is something terribly wrong with how we see one another and how we police this country and one another. They prove once again that black lives don’t matter.

If you don’t believe me, try walking a few days in the shoes of my bi-racial nephews, black graduate students or African spouse.

The murderous response in Dallas last week reminds us that while there are definitely people who should never be given the responsibility of policing us, there are also plenty of other folks who will murder solely on the basis of color.

A few weeks ago when discussing the brutal massacre in Orlando, a friend who is a secondary school principal in Connecticut said, “when a third grader on our playground picks up a stick and starts to beat another kid, we take the stick away. We don’t give all the kids sticks.”

It is simply unconscionable that our politicians on both the left and the right have been unable to come to any sort of agreement on even the simplest of background checks for assault weapons. Why is the “answer” always more weapons of war?

And, why can’t so many of our police find a way to do their essential and courageous work without racial profiling and the excessive use of force?

I don’t have the answers, but I know we are on the edge of a precipice. We can either stop the hate and answer with love, or we are going to witness the further division and militarization of our country and world.

No amount of bombast or walls will keep the world at bay. No amount of settlement money will ever bring Garner or Rice back. And no one claiming to believe in God can simply sit by and watch this path to ruin without a broken heart.

Joseph F. Cistone

Mount Desert

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