Stop what you’re doing. Just for a moment…stop. Reach out your hand, doesn’t matter which one. Take the opposite hand and press two fingers to your wrist. Press hard till you can feel your pulse…your heartbeat. That gentle tick tock tick tock. If you can’t find it there, reach up to where your chin meets your neck and press in. Count the beats. Were you just waking from sleep? Did you go for a morning run? Is it slow, is it fast? How fast does your heart beat this morning?
Now let go. And think about the 2 men who’s hearts no longer beat today. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Think about the 5 cops in Dallas who lost their lives mere hours ago. They had heartbeats too.
Think of the victims who died in Baghdad days ago and in an Istanbul airport days before that and the victims of the Pulse shooting before that. Reach back into our too near past and count the heartbeats that have stopped. Ferguson, Paris, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine, 9/11 and on and on and on.
What do these events have in common? There are different evils at work in each case, but there is a common thread. Heartbeats. Hundreds of thousands of heartbeats. The light and healthy heartbeats of children and teenagers. The heavier heartbeats of young, middle-aged and older adults.
It’s true…we have a race problem.
We have a terrorism problem.
We have a gun problem and a bomb problem and a hate problem.
None of which will ever be fixed if we don’t stop and think that the people standing next to us have one thing in common with us….a heartbeat.
I have one…you have one. Alton does not. Philando does not. Stanley and Amanda and Oscar and Aracena and Rodolfo and Antonio and Darryl and Angel and Juan and Luis and Cory and Simon and Leroy and Mercedes and Peter and Juan and Paul and Frank and Miguel and Javier and Jason and Eddie and Anthony and Christopher and Alejandro and Brenda and Gilberto and Kimberly and Akyra and Luis and Geraldo and Eric and Joel and Jean and Enrique and Jean and Xavier and Christopher and Yilmary and Edward and Shane and Martin and Jonathan and Juan and Luis and Franky and Luis and Jerald do not. The cops in Dallas, who’s names haven’t been release yet because their deaths are that fresh, do not.
Don’t become immune to this violence that is plaguing our country…our world. It would be easy to do. Terrible events like these are becoming more common and our news sources are flooding us with images and video footage and statistics and outrage. This is their job. And I think it’s all they know to do right now. They have heartbeats too remember!
As I’ve said before, I don’t know what to do to fix it. But I know I was given a voice. We all have that in common too. See how alike we are.
I didn’t forget that we’re different. I didn’t forget that you live there and I live here. That maybe you’re a Republican and I’m a Democrat. That maybe you’re an Atheist and I’m a Christian. That maybe you’re gay and I’m straight. That maybe you’re black and I’m white. I didn’t forget.
I just don’t care about what makes us different. I care about what makes us the same. I’m asking you to care about that too.
It’s not enough. Change must happen, we must demand it. That is important. This is the time. But right now, reach your hand back and feel your heartbeat and thank God or whatever you believe in that you still have one today. Cause not everyone does this morning.
It’s sad and it hurts and it’s wrong. I hope you feel all those emotions that remind us we are alive. But more than that, I hope it makes you mad. I hope you get so mad that the demons know you’re coming for them.
And in the aftermath of death and death and death I hope we start preserving and protecting heartbeats. All heartbeats. Mine and yours and his and hers and theirs. They’re all the same.
Hey, we HAVE to start somewhere. Start now.