Hurd on the Hill: It’s Time for Unity

July 11, 2016
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns
Those who seek to divide us will not win

To those who are using fear and terror to try and divide our country, I have a message.

You will not win.

When tragedies such as the ones that played out in Dallas and across the country this week happen, the reactions from across the political spectrum are for people to retreat to their corners and pull out their same, tired talking points.

That has to end.

If we are going to solve the problems besetting our nation right now, we have to have a sobering conversation. We can’t find solutions until we truly investigate all of the facts and accurately identify the problems. Unfortunately solutions cannot be reached if we continue talking past each other.

The community of Dallas has set a great example for us to follow. You had law enforcement protecting people who were peacefully protesting law enforcement practices. And these police showed they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice when confronted with evil. We need to honor those sacrifices of Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa by using them to unite us; not divide us as the Dallas killer tried to do.

There is a role for Congress in this. As officials on the national stage, we must set an example to follow by bringing leaders from all sides together and encourage open, honest, and frank dialogue.

But I believe that the real solutions will come from the ground up.

It starts with everyone recognizing that the majority of people protesting the deaths of Mr. Castile in Minnesota and Mr. Sterling in Louisiana are exercising their constitutional rights peacefully. We must also understand that the few officers that have been involved in profiling or excessive use of force are not reflective of the larger law enforcement community that is protecting and serving the community every single day.

When we talk about these events with our friends or on social media, are we contributing to the sense of community that binds all Americans together or are we sowing seeds of division?

It’s been lamented that the sense of community that most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers grew up with is fading away. Families no longer know their neighbors, much less the law enforcement tasked with protecting and serving their neighborhoods. Lack of communication has led to misunderstandings, distrust, and as we’ve seen all too often -- violence.

It’s imperative that we start rebuilding these relationships. We can start with finding the things we all have in common. For instance, ensuring everyone has a safe neighborhood for their family to live in, secure schools for children to learn at, and opportunities to move up the economic ladder.

If we want peace on our streets and lives saved, we need to be taken out of our comfort zones and have hard conversations. We might need to spend less time in front of our TV and more time on the front porch talking to our neighbors or attending community events. We might need to seek to understand the motivations of others and sometimes forgive others for the mistakes they make.

We have to stop seeing people who don’t agree with us as enemies. We are all Americans. It’s time to unify.