“Mr. Rogers in Dreadlocks”


I was still in my bed in the early morning hours, as the birds sang lazily and the humidity seemed to muffle the everyday sounds of daybreak.  The radio came on, and I was immediately woken from my slow, peaceful rise from sleep.  Eleven cops were shot in Dallas overnight, five of them already dead, at a peaceful rally in reaction to the recent killings of two young black men by police in New Orleans and Minnesota.  However, last night’s shootings were not coming from the gathered group of protesters; they were from snipers high above the crowds.  

These tragedies multiply every day in our world.  They happen so often, we begin to lose track — Baghdad just this week, Orlando before that — our minds cannot keep them in order, because there are too many.  And yet, each tragic killing leaves behind a multitude of mourners who will forever remember and grieve.

We try to pinpoint the causes of these horrible killings; we think by passing strict gun control and providing more mental health care and by sending more soldiers to war-torn areas that we can stop the terrible chaos.  Personally, I don’t think there is one simple answer.  I think the core problems are hatred, racism in all of its forms, refusal to respect other religions, and feelings of superiority between individuals, groups, and nations.  

Unfortunately, we cannot legislate these problems away.  These are problems that have existed since time began, but are much more evident in our global society, where hateful words are disseminated almost instantaneously over the internet.  We see it on our cable news stations, we read it on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, we even hear it from the mouths of our politicians — hatred for those who are different from us.  

And, I have often innocently believed that we can change the world one person at a time — that my words of peace and love can have some impact on one or two other people, and there will be a ripple effect.  All we need are enough people uttering those words of peace and love and inclusion. But, this morning as I listened to the news, I heard the stories of Philandro Castile, the young black man killed by two policemen this week.  I heard people speak of his kindness as he worked with the young children at the school where he was employed.  One woman called him, “Mr. Rogers in dreadlocks,” and I cried.  One less kind voice in the world, among so many hateful hearts.