We have flipped a switch in America

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2016

God help us.

That’s the prayer that so many Americans uttered today in response to the hate-filled sniper attack that killed five Dallas police officers and left six others injured.

Thursday’s shootings capped off an outrageously violent 72-hour period that saw black men die at the hands of white police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, adding voice and vehemence to swelling discontent.

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Not surprisingly, the outrage led to a protest in downtown Dallas – a chorus of marching voices joining thousands across the nation in a call to end injustice and to recognize that Black Lives Matter.

But this time, the hatred in one individual led to a deadly shooting spree targeting white police officers, a twisted act of vengeance for perceived wrongs.

And the repercussions have rocked us to our heels.

We have flipped a switch in America, one in which violence begets violence; hate fuels vengeance; and disagreements dissolve into chaos.

This divisiveness between police and the public is a symptom of a much deeper problem: a lack of respect, for each other and for the dignity of human life. We have lost our moral compass, that voice inside that stops us from reverting to the basest of human emotions and actions. We seek not to solve problems but to win, resorting to violence and intimidation to get what we want. We see each other only through the filters of our own prejudices – black and white, public servant or elected official, guilty or innocent. We don’t trust, conditioned instead to react from fear or those prejudices.

And we shoot and kill, with reckless disregard for life or for our society.

This feels like the beginning of something new and terrible here in America.

And we can only pray that God will help us.