To see Boyd Matheson deliver this via a Facebook Live video, click here.
The horrific and senseless scenes from the tragedy in Dallas, combined with officer-involved deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana, bring us as a nation to stand in front of the mirror of evaluation. Questions will be rightly raised in the days ahead about race relations in America, criminal justice reform, law enforcement, Second Amendment rights, police and community trust and many, many others.
We should also ask some questions individually, as communities and as a country. Who are we? What have we become? What will we be in the future? Do the brutal and despicable acts of the few taint the scores of good and honorable individuals or are they simply a reflection of where we are headed?
Many Americans have responded by sharing on social media Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Do we need to hug it out as a nation? YES! But that is not enough. Do we need to talk it out as communities? YES! But that is not enough. Do we need to listen it out with people who are different from us? YES! But we will need more. We need a new dialogue, a new focus and a new direction for our interaction as a society.
Many Americans have expressed a sense of being powerless in the face of the tragedies of Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana. And that is exactly what the evil and undermining forces want you to feel. You may feel powerless – but you are not. You may be asking yourself, “What can I possibly do?” We must recognize and remember that individually and collectively we are immensely powerful.
We often look to the greatest generation who rose up in a time of war to unite the nation, preserve freedom and provide a place where individuals, families and communities could thrive and prosper. The greatest generation showed just what a united America can do when everyone sacrifices, everyone gives something up, everyone helps a neighbor in need, everyone looks for the good in people, everyone discovers opportunities to make a difference.
Like the greatest generation – we too are being asked to rise up in a time of war. The war we face is different – but the consequences are every bit as real.
We face a battle against the MYTH that we are too divided as a nation to confront and defeat the challenging issues of our day.
We are at war with the idea that we are so divided as a nation that we have no choice but to retreat to our classes, races and special interests.
Lincoln asked, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
So, what can each of us do individually? A lot! You are immensely powerful. Strident voices tell us that our society is sick and broken beyond repair. Remember, though we are individuals, together we create our culture, our society and our future.
At times such as this we often quote great leaders like Lincoln and Dr. King. We need to stop just talking about them, and start acting like them.
What can you do? Act on these questions:
What am I sending out in my words and rhetoric?
Am I reaching out in positive ways?
What will I do today to strengthen my family and community?
Do I treat those different from me with respect and kindness?
Am I engaged in elevated dialogue?
Do I listen with an open heart and mind?
Will I admit when I am wrong?
Do I seek to serve?
Am I a good example to my children, friends and neighbors?
If we all would act on one of those questions – TODAY – we would begin to the heal the wounds in our families, neighborhoods and nation. Government is not, cannot and should not be big enough to solve these issues.
We commit to honor those we have lost by our actions, not just our words. We pray that those who are left behind to mourn and carry on will be blessed and strengthened. We will decide that as individuals our better angels will prevail. We will decide that our communities will become more heroic. We will decide to celebrate the strength that comes from our diversity and our commitment to the values that are the bedrock of our nation. E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.”
We invite every American to be “here highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”
For all of us at Sutherland Institute, this is Boyd Matheson. Thank you.