"It's okay. I'm right here with you," were the soft, innocent words echoing in the background as I hesitantly watched the painful video of a black man suffering from several gunshot wounds inflicted by a police officer, all recorded by his girlfriend who witnessed the entire incident. Is this really the world we live in? We're not only ignoring our fellow man's right to live, but we're literally just killing each other in front of our children?
Philando Castile's life was unnecessarily stripped from him that fateful evening when he and his girlfriend were pulled over for a busted tail light. What he probably dreaded in those seconds before the officer fired his gun, unfortunately became a reality, and this is true for the nearly 540 victims who lost their lives at the hands of police officers this year. Moreover, five police officers lost their lives last week as a result of a mad man seeking revenge for black people. Let me point out that justice is not revenge, and killing innocent, selfless individuals who protect and serve the people is absolutely not the answer. My heart is extremely heavy for the countless victims and their families who are no longer with us, but my heart also aches for the invisible victims of these acts of violence: our children.
"If we have no respect for the lives of one another, how can we respect our children?"
I believe there is truth in the statement, "The children are our future," but where does this leave us if the next generation has been blinded and manipulated by an insurmountable amount of hatred and violence? Children do not have to be touched to be traumatized. Do we not realize that these children who have witnessed these acts of violence are much more likely to suffer as adults from mental issues, relationship problems, addiction, and other health problems and become victims or perpetrators of violence? But the better question is, if we have no respect for the lives of one another, how can we respect our children?
I am so incredibly disgusted by the current situation in this country, I can barely get my thoughts together. But I will say this; I am not here to teach adults how to respect one another, so if we fail to do that, can we at least pay more attention to our children? To hear the voice of that little girl comforting her mother was chilling--it literally moved me to tears. The shooting of Philando Castile, the protest in Dallas that resulted in the wrongful death of five police officers, the countless episodes of domestic violence...children should not be exposed to these types of behavior. Please spare your children and prevent their future outlook on life from being permanently altered by removing them from these types of situations. I am begging you!
Trauma is real, and what we don't want is for our children to become desensitized and accustomed to these types of behavior. If children are exposed to violence time and time again, they might begin to believe it's okay, and this is where we come in. We need to break the cycle, and there is no better time than now.
Additionally, remember that police officers come from the community. One day, our own children will become police officers, and we should not want our children to develop a hatred or distrust towards authority. We need police officers, so we need to be careful of the way police response to protests and violence is portrayed to prevent a tampered view of police for our children. We also don't want our children to grow up in a world where they are afraid to dial 911. Children are scared, they're frightened, and many just do not understand what is happening. Police officers, parents, community organizers--we all need to collectively come together to help our children understand they are safe. The people have a voice too, and it needs to be heard.
"We must ensure the hard work of those who fought for our freedoms was not done in vain."
We have to do better. We must do better. We need to set a better example for our children. We must ensure the hard work of those who fought for our freedoms was not done in vain; those who stood on the front line of oppression and injustice, and gave their lives so that we might live in a free world. We must ensure their sacrifices were not made in vain, instead, we should strive to teach our children about those who fought before us, so the next generation can take us even further.
We need to live in a world where people of all races and walks of life can work together and empathize with each other to reach a solution and a common goal. We need to be honest with our children so we can make them better than we are. We need to teach our children that some may not treat them fairly because of the color of their skin. White parents should also teach their children about the subject. I understand you might feel somewhat uncomfortable tackling the topic of race, but if we want to get anywhere, we must talk to our children about how unfair racism is and how this issue only dehumanizes us all; every single one of us.
Teach our children to live right. Teach our children to be respectful, not only to law enforcement, but to one another. We need to do our best to remove our children from violent situations and safeguard them. Our most important responsibility in life is to protect and raise our children the best way we can. Let's come together to do our best and make a difference for the next generation. They are counting on us.