I rarely blog on the subject-of-the-day, because with all the great bloggers out there, I am sure to be out-thunk. I’ll take a stab at this one, however, because it’s in my back yard of Dallas, the city where I was born and now live.
I’ve been seeing the blue of the Dallas Police Department since I was little. They work in our schools, they return the wandering elderly to their homes, they respond to endlessly troublesome burglar alarms, and today, over-stressed, grief-stricken and carrying the weight of present-day race relations on their shoulders, they’ll secure the roadways for the safety of the visiting president.
Just a month ago, in 100° temperatures, they oversaw the Trump visit and choreographed maneuvers that kept his supporters and detractors from even thinking about getting nasty with each other. Today, if there are any troublemakers left with the spine for it after our heartbreaking week, they’ll find the same: Dallas Police will keep the peace, a job they do very well.
The city of Dallas has reacted with charity in the wake of the shootings last Thursday night, in large part because we have decent leadership: in our police department, our city government and in our local churches. By decent, I mean caring, respectful, living by values and laws over temporary flare-ups of emotion.
Our leaders have made it clear that the protest that preceded the shootings was peaceful. It didn’t shut down highways; it didn’t damage property. Children, even infants, were there. The police were a benevolent presence, assuring the safety of the protestors exercising their freedom to assemble, a civil right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Our leaders have not given way to prejudicial remarks and have not played the universal game of finger-pointing. They have not used the lifeblood of the officers to advance their own political agenda. Instead, they have sympathized with the concern that is at the heart of the protests, the clamoring need of the black community to be respected and safeguarded. And they have reminded us that our law enforcement officers serve us every day and indeed make our lives of peace possible by laying down their own lives.
It could so easily have gone the other way. Our leaders could have touched a spark to the powder keg and, at this moment, we’d be hunkered down in our homes, behind our walls, instead of being free to attend public prayer services and open gatherings downtown.
Anyone who is pro-life owes a special debt to policemen. If we did not have policemen to protect our rights, sidewalk counseling and prayer would be nearly impossible. Planned Parenthood may have billions of dollars at their disposal, but even all their excess cannot buy away the law that backs our public presence, and the police who enforce it. The police protect the abortionists as well, because that is the law at this time, much as we hunger and thirst to change it.
There is a principle at work: the law protects the voice of the smaller person. It’s a beautiful innovation of the American experiment and is worth preserving, within the boundaries of peace, respect and order.
Police stand for order, and order benefits us all. If a society descends to every-man-for-himself, there will be only one outcome: the strong will eat the weak. Without the rule of law, those of us who aren’t the biggest or the richest will be easily subordinated. The law puts us on an even playing field, even when our physical state would not allow us to suit up for the game.
An orderly culture is the only kind consistent with the dignity of the human person. Equality is not essentially a political characteristic; or more accurately, it draws any political force it has from the reality of God’s design. We are equal in dignity because God made us so. It’s not something we “grant” to other people; it is a quality of the human person.
Without that undergirding, the quest for equality becomes self-defeating. One group achieves the political power to force another into action, sowing resentment and the seeds of eventual reaction. Then the teeter-totter tips, ad infinitum.
According to St. John Paul, the family is the place where the human person is meant to be received in love, no matter what his abilities or disabilities, his qualities, intelligence or strength. We learn to love others with equal dignity first in the family.
So what can you do about racial tension? Perhaps first, love your family.
Then build outward the civilization of love. It must be consistent and universal. It has to encompass all races, all ages, all stages of development, children in the womb to the most fragile grandmother, police officers and protestors, and the silent sufferers of injustice who never make the news. If any category of people are excluded from our civilization of love, it will eventually fall apart, like an old T-shirt with more holes than fabric, because it will not be true.
With an “adequate anthropology” in mind, a true vision of man, political rights follow; we can comprehend the truth of every human person. And the only proper response to the human person is love.
Sheryl Collmer, M.T.S. is the Director of Outreach for TOBET in Irving, Texas where she joins her fellow Dallasites in prayer today.