I thank the educators vowing to teach and to train; to inspire and to mold; to discipline and guide, to care and to uplift. You plan the lessons, you grade the papers; you have the tough conversations, you shape the future. It’s a difficult job, and I’m glad that you do it. Thank you for your service.
I thank the healers vowing to promote and protect our health, to diagnose and prescribe, to recommend and refer. You aid the sick, give hope to the weary, bring relief to the pained, give clarity to the lost. It’s a difficult job, and I’m glad that you do it. Thank you for your service.
I thank the clergymen and women, all religious and spiritual leaders, vowing to act as conduits to the deities to which we pray. You console the weary, promote love and acceptance, counsel the lost and guide the abandoned. It’s a difficult job, and I’m glad that you do it. Thank you for your sacrifice.
I thank the elected officials vowing to lead by example and affect positive change. You enact and enforce policy, lend an ear to your constituents, make impossible judgements, set precedents and limitations. It’s a difficult job, and I’m glad that you do it. Thank you for your sacrifice.
I thank the members of our military vowing allegiance to our country. You fight for our causes, uphold out liberties, chase down our enemies and work tirelessly to defend our freedoms. It’s a difficult job, and I’m glad that you do it. Thank you for your sacrifice.
And yes, I thank the policemen and women vowing to protect and serve this country. You work to restore and maintain order, to ensure our safety, to defend us from those who’d harm us, to bring justice to those who’ve hurt us. You place your lives on the line daily, and I’m glad that you do it. Thank you for your sacrifice.
Make no mistake though: it is not only possible but undeniably true that there are plenty of bad teachers, doctors, politicians, priests, members of the military, etc, in the world. The nobility and inherently challenging nature of these vocations does not pardon culpability for abuse and wrongdoing in these roles. See, with my profuse thanks comes an ardent demand for accountability, an important and essential reminder of what it means to choose to serve. If you will teach, if you will heal, if you will protect and lead and guide, then so too shall you and should you be brought to task for your choice to only do so conditionally.
We all know the police don’t have an easy task before them. I for once appreciate every single last one of them living up to the service-driven charge of their uniform and badge. And while I do not for one second condone the killing of innocent officers, it is infuriating and appalling to witness such one-sided outrage, misguided rants and delicately hidden racism in the wake of these police shootings. Were you not also incensed when you watched two black men die at the hands of police on your social media feeds? Are you not enraged at the growing list of black Americans who’ve suffered this same devastating fate? Are you not shaken to your core when you realize the histories of brutal injustice you studied in your school days are replaying themselves around you? Why only when the white cops are killed is it that injustice is freshly apparent?
No, violence is not the answer – but consider how much easier it is to say that from your comfortable place at your keyboard. Imagine facing the sobering reality that your oppressors will experience no consequence for the repeated marginalization and persecution of your people. Imagine feeling helpless, disenfranchised, powerless and weak when peaceful recourse has rendered no meaningful change. Imagine feeling pushed to the brink, out of your mind, begging and pleading for the blood in your veins to be seen as precious as anyone else’s, and feeling like the very last card left to play is to fight fire with a like kind of destructive fire. Imagine desperation.
I don’t have all the answers, or very many for that matter. But the feeling that something is very wrong is undeniable and palpable and thick. I believe that equality is non-negotiable, that love is exponentially more powerful than hate and that all big change starts with a series of smaller ones.
So I will start with my words. Yes, all lives do matter, but right now we need to scream from the rooftops that black lives matter. Because they do, and we clearly need to be reminded.