What’s Goin’ On?

I feel blessed today.  Maybe because it’s pay-day, but I have to think it’s more than that. Continue reading

July Shuffle 2.0

When I do these, it is mainly to decompress.  I thought this week was going to be light.  Yeah, right!  Social media has been on fire for me all week long.  So this is my way of escaping from it all.  No education tonight.  No Facebook.  No emails.  Just chilling with some tunes and hoping things change soon.  I always do the “read more” on these articles cause I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.  They tend to be long and I babble at times.  Sometimes I reveal things about myself that most people don’t know.  This one is no exception.  In fact, I get very real on many different subjects in this one. Continue reading

February Shuffle 1.0

Continuing the tradition from last month, this non-education series of articles is all about the music!

“Kick”, INXS: Heh heh heh.  About all I can say about this!

“Nothing Lasts Forever”, Echo & The Bunnymen: I actually didn’t find this song until 2006 when I picked up a greatest hits compilation of the band.  The title says it all.  At least in its current form.  Life is like energy, it doesn’t disappear, it just evolves.

“The Drugs Don’t Work”, The Verve: Drug addicts have a tough time of it.  I would like to think each and every one had a moment in their lives when they could have taken a different turn and stopped the rough road they went down.  Nothing good comes of it.  It tears apart families and destroys lives.  Sometimes it kills people.  It is an epidemic no matter how you slice it.  One addict is one too many.

“How Do You Love?”, Collective Soul: There are people in this world who do not get love from the time they enter the world.  It leaves horrible scars.  They don’t get that basic foundation that most people get.  They were deprived of that nurturing comfort that forms who they are.  They grow up.  It is incredibly sad what happens to these people.  Is it their fault for the decisions they make when they are older?  Hard to tell.  The problem is they believe they are always the victim and it is always someone else’s fault.  Things like accountability go out the window and they are in a constant state of self-defense.  They don’t even realize this.  If you offend them in any way, you are the enemy.  They will justify any event or situation to fit their needs, which tends to be fleeting in the grand scheme of things.  When they do something wrong, they believe it is not their fault.  They are hard-wired at a very early age to never really trust anyone.   They will lie based on fear.  The truly sad part?  Many of these people don’t get the help they need and there is no medicine that can cure this.  They can be the hardest people in the world to give love to because the odds are very high you won’t get it back in return.  But be assured, they are loved.  Even when those who love them think they can’t give anymore to give and the well has run dry, they are there.  Sometimes that is the truest love of all.  It isn’t romantic or glamorous or sexy, but it is very real.  When they want to cast you aside, as they have done so many others, based on a perceived threat that is not ground in reality, they will smear your reputation and leave you feeling hopeless.  I’ve heard some say this kind of person can never be fixed.  That can be a very bitter pill to swallow.  With God’s love, I think anything is possible.  But they are also His lost sheep.

“The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)”, John Williams: How many of you have hummed this piece in your head when you know trouble is coming into a room?

“Waiting In Vain”, Bob Marley: Nothing soothes the soul like a little Bob Marley!  I remember days after school hanging out at Scott’s Reservoir, a man-made body of water between New York and Connecticut.  On one end of “the res” as we called it was a rope swing.  On the other end were cliffs you could jump off.  Down from the rope swing was the end of the res and it was there I camped out at times.  You had a limited time each year to enjoy the swimming adventures at the res.  Usually between Mid-May to the beginning of July.  After that they drained the res for a while.  My parents didn’t want me going there, but that didn’t stop this rebellious teenager.  A lot of good times with friends at the res.  I met a lot of people there as well.

“Bliss”, Tori Amos: What do you do when you finish a book in your life?  You start a new one.  But sometimes that beginning is very slow and boring.  This was the place I was in back in 1998.  Little did I know what was lurking around the corner!

“Upside Down”, Jack Johnson: Like Marley, Jack’s music is awesome for the soul!  I always think of the Curious George movie when I hear this song.  My son Jacob loved watching the video to this song.  His favorite part was when Jack Johnson slips on a banana peel and falls into the water.  I can still hear the laughter through the years!

“Into The Night”, Julee Cruise: Back in 1990 I was in a nasty depression.  The years and some bad stuff took their toll on me.  The absolute worst thing you can do while in this state is watch a show like “Twin Peaks”.  But of course I did it anyway.  David Lynch’s mega-opus into the bizarre and surreal town in Washington captured audiences as they wondered who killed Laura Palmer.  They solved the murder but the show fizzled after that as the central hook was gone.  But it is coming back this Spring for… who knows!

“Rain King”, Counting Crows: This is a Summer of ’94 song!  I just graduated college.  Between the New York Rangers finally winning the Stanley Cup again and O.J. Bronco chases, it was a crazy summer.  But for me, it was very quiet.  Just the way I wanted it!

“The Rose”, Bette Midler: This is one of those songs that holds several different meanings for me, going all the way back to 1980 when it first came out.  Each time, each era, I feel as though it holds more importance, more weight.  Love means so many different things to so many people.  It can be the greatest comfort in the world or it can bring immense pain and sadness.  It all depends on where you are at.

“Bleecker St.”, Simon & Garfunkel: When I hear songs like this that came out from the years before I was born I am envious.  I always wondered what I would have been like in the 1960s.  Judging by this blog and the content I tend to put up on here, I think I know the answer to that question!

“Tears In Heaven”, Eric Clapton: Nothing hurts more then losing a child.  I remember when Eric Clapton’s son fell out of a window and died.  I was working at a deli and it came on the radio.  I felt so bad for Clapton and his family.  This song perfectly summarizes his anguish.

“Going Back”, The Outfield: In the summer of 1992, I got to back home to New York for a few months.  I was working on a magazine about comic books and I stayed with my aunt and uncle near where I grew up.  That was a great summer!  I lost touch with my friends Steve and Neil a long time ago and haven’t been able to find them.  The highlight of the summer was going to San Diego for the first time.  Watching the sun set over the Pacific at Mission Beach as I sat in a bar with my friend Steve.  There are many reading this who may have seen the sun rise at the beach, but if you have never seen it set over the Pacific, make sure you put that on your bucket list!

“New Dress”, Depeche Mode: You think political angst is just an American thing?  To the British in the 1980s it was everything.  But the media focused on celebrities.  Thus this song.  But the message is about Princess Diana’s new dress.  It is actually a get out and vote song when you really listen to it!

“Sleeping Satellite”, Tasmin Archer: Another summer song, this one belonging to 1993.  Another summer at my aunt and uncle’s place in New York.  This summer wasn’t as much fun because I was a co-editor on a book about comic book artists.  There were many late nights getting all the pieces together for this mammoth undertaking.  I did get to San Diego again that summer.  But this was one of those songs that I played over and over again that summer.

“Noah’s Dove”, 10,000 Maniacs: Probably in my top ten songs of all time.  The first time I heard it was driving into a small town in West Virginia.  During Spring Break my senior year of college, I spent that week helping out people in that small town.  It was refreshing and a nice change of pace.  I have always felt giving and volunteer service is good for the soul.  But this song… it’s like “The Rose”, holding different meanings over the years.  At times I felt like Noah’s Dove.  Sometimes it is someone else.

“Ring The Bells”, James: Man, this shuffle sure is picking out a lot of songs from the nineties!  When bad stuff happens, we feel alone a lot.  Like no one can help us.  And sometimes we feel God isn’t there either.  Be assured He is.  He may not be there the way you want Him to be, but he is definitely there!

“The Dolphin’s Cry”, Live: Beginnings are usually awesome.  Full of promise and hope.  New feelings and excitement.

“Daysleeper”, R.E.M.: In the fall of 1998, I got a new job at a mortgage company.  I wanted to do really well at this new job.  A few months into it, I got a call from someone.  This person let me know they got engaged.  Being that I used to date this person, hell, moved across the Atlantic Ocean to be with this person, it crushed me when I heard it.  Cut to my taking a break at work, smoking a cigarette outside.  This woman I had seen before came out.  She could tell I was upset.  I told her what happened.  We talked for a while about it and she helped me to not let this news ruin my day.  These are the moments where friendships are born.

“Song2”, Blur: If you were into the Grunge movement in the nineties, this song was almost an anthem.  Body-surfing, the grunge dancing, the loud music.  Yeah, it was a movement!

“Brother”, Needtobreathe: If you see your brother is down, go to him.  Doesn’t have to be your biological brother.  We are all brothers and sisters on this planet, no matter what color we are.  Some people may not seem like they want help.  Give it a shot.  You could actually save a life!

“What Does It Take?”, Honeymoon Suite: If one song could perfectly encapsulate what my life is like now, this would be it.

Time for bed.  I’ll post this in the morning.

 

President Obama Gave The Eulogy Of A Lifetime In Dallas

As I was surfing through my home page on Facebook this morning, I came across various mentions of President Obama’s eulogy for the five fallen Dallas police officers murdered last week in a moment of extreme violence in retaliation to the killing of two other men many miles away.  Between all the Pokémon Go memes and the pictures of various families during their summer trips, something nagged at me to read the speech.  Finally, I saw a post by Tony Allen, the Chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission who posted the speech.  I sat on my porch, reading the whole thing, my eyes bursting to tears.  I will confess I’m not always the biggest Obama fan.  I have not liked his education policies at all.  But he gets it.  He understands the true meaning of what happened last week.  He echoed the same words I wrote in a reply to a friend’s post last night that we will heal through our actions, not our words.  I wanted to post the entire speech as well.  I’m sure it is all over the place, but I wanted to get it on my blog.  As a memorial for the five Dallas police officers, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile.  Thank you President Obama, for finding the right words to say in a troubling time in American history.  Thank you as well to Tony Allen, who deserves far more credit than he gets for trying to make Wilmington, Delaware a better place!

Mr. President and Mrs. Bush; my friend, the Vice President, and Dr. Biden; Mayor Rawlings; Chief Spiller; clergy; members of Congress; Chief Brown — I’m so glad I met Michelle first, because she loves Stevie Wonder — (laughter and applause) — but most of all, to the families and friends and colleagues and fellow officers:

Scripture tells us that in our sufferings there is glory, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Sometimes the truths of these words are hard to see. Right now, those words test us. Because the people of Dallas, people across the country, are suffering.

We’re here to honor the memory, and mourn the loss, of five fellow Americans — to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, to pray for the wounded, and to try and find some meaning amidst our sorrow.

For the men and women who protect and serve the people of Dallas, last Thursday began like any other day. Like most Americans each day, you get up, probably have too quick a breakfast, kiss your family goodbye, and you head to work. But your work, and the work of police officers across the country, is like no other. For the moment you put on that uniform, you have answered a call that at any moment, even in the briefest interaction, may put your life in harm’s way.

Lorne Ahrens, he answered that call. So did his wife, Katrina — not only because she was the spouse of a police officer, but because she’s a detective on the force. They have two kids. And Lorne took them fishing, and used to proudly go to their school in uniform. And the night before he died, he bought dinner for a homeless man. And the next night, Katrina had to tell their children that their dad was gone. “They don’t get it yet,” their grandma said. “They don’t know what to do quite yet.”

Michael Krol answered that call. His mother said, “He knew the dangers of the job, but he never shied away from his duty.” He came a thousand miles from his home state of Michigan to be a cop in Dallas, telling his family, “This is something I wanted to do.” Last year, he brought his girlfriend back to Detroit for Thanksgiving, and it was the last time he’d see his family.

Michael Smith answered that call — in the Army, and over almost 30 years working for the Dallas Police Association, which gave him the appropriately named “Cops Cop” award. A man of deep faith, when he was off duty, he could be found at church or playing softball with his two girls. Today, his girls have lost their dad, for God has called Michael home.

Patrick Zamarripa, he answered that call. Just 32, a former altar boy who served in the Navy and dreamed of being a cop. He liked to post videos of himself and his kids on social media. And on Thursday night, while Patrick went to work, his partner Kristy posted a photo of her and their daughter at a Texas Rangers game, and tagged her partner so that he could see it while on duty.

Brent Thompson answered that call. He served his country as a Marine. And years later, as a contractor, he spent time in some of the most dangerous parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. And then a few years ago, he settled down here in Dallas for a new life of service as a transit cop. And just about two weeks ago, he married a fellow officer, their whole life together waiting before them.

Like police officers across the country, these men and their families shared a commitment to something larger than themselves. They weren’t looking for their names to be up in lights. They’d tell you the pay was decent but wouldn’t make you rich. They could have told you about the stress and long shifts, and they’d probably agree with Chief Brown when he said that cops don’t expect to hear the words “thank you” very often, especially from those who need them the most.

No, the reward comes in knowing that our entire way of life in America depends on the rule of law; that the maintenance of that law is a hard and daily labor; that in this country, we don’t have soldiers in the streets or militias setting the rules. Instead, we have public servants — police officers — like the men who were taken away from us.

And that’s what these five were doing last Thursday when they were assigned to protect and keep orderly a peaceful protest in response to the killing of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile of Minnesota. They were upholding the constitutional rights of this country.

For a while, the protest went on without incident. And despite the fact that police conduct was the subject of the protest, despite the fact that there must have been signs or slogans or chants with which they profoundly disagreed, these men and this department did their jobs like the professionals that they were. In fact, the police had been part of the protest’s planning. Dallas PD even posted photos on their Twitter feeds of their own officers standing among the protesters. Two officers, black and white, smiled next to a man with a sign that read, “No Justice, No Peace.”

And then, around nine o’clock, the gunfire came. Another community torn apart. More hearts broken. More questions about what caused, and what might prevent, another such tragedy.

I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week. First, the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, and the protests, then the targeting of police by the shooter here — an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred. All of it has left us wounded, and angry, and hurt. It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened. And although we know that such divisions are not new — though they have surely been worse in even the recent past — that offers us little comfort.

Faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged. We wonder if an African-American community that feels unfairly targeted by police, and police departments that feel unfairly maligned for doing their jobs, can ever understand each other’s experience. We turn on the TV or surf the Internet, and we can watch positions harden and lines drawn, and people retreat to their respective corners, and politicians calculate how to grab attention or avoid the fallout. We see all this, and it’s hard not to think sometimes that the center won’t hold and that things might get worse.

I understand. I understand how Americans are feeling. But, Dallas, I’m here to say we must reject such despair. I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds. (Applause.) I know we’ll make it because of what I’ve experienced in my own life, what I’ve seen of this country and its people — their goodness and decency –as President of the United States. And I know it because of what we’ve seen here in Dallas — how all of you, out of great suffering, have shown us the meaning of perseverance and character, and hope.

When the bullets started flying, the men and women of the Dallas police, they did not flinch and they did not react recklessly. They showed incredible restraint. Helped in some cases by protesters, they evacuated the injured, isolated the shooter, and saved more lives than we will ever know. (Applause.) We mourn fewer people today because of your brave actions. (Applause.) “Everyone was helping each other,” one witness said. “It wasn’t about black or white. Everyone was picking each other up and moving them away.” See, that’s the America I know.

The police helped Shetamia Taylor as she was shot trying to shield her four sons. She said she wanted her boys to join her to protest the incidents of black men being killed. She also said to the Dallas PD, “Thank you for being heroes.” And today, her 12-year old son wants to be a cop when he grows up. That’s the America I know. (Applause.)

In the aftermath of the shooting, we’ve seen Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown, a white man and a black man with different backgrounds, working not just to restore order and support a shaken city, a shaken department, but working together to unify a city with strength and grace and wisdom. (Applause.) And in the process, we’ve been reminded that the Dallas Police Department has been at the forefront of improving relations between police and the community. (Applause.) The murder rate here has fallen. Complaints of excessive force have been cut by 64 percent. The Dallas Police Department has been doing it the right way. (Applause.) And so, Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown, on behalf of the American people, thank you for your steady leadership, thank you for your powerful example. We could not be prouder of you. (Applause.)

These men, this department — this is the America I know. And today, in this audience, I see people who have protested on behalf of criminal justice reform grieving alongside police officers. I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In this audience, I see what’s possible — (applause) — I see what’s possible when we recognize that we are one American family, all deserving of equal treatment, all deserving of equal respect, all children of God. That’s the America that I know.

Now, I’m not naïve. I have spoken at too many memorials during the course of this presidency. I’ve hugged too many families who have lost a loved one to senseless violence. And I’ve seen how a spirit of unity, born of tragedy, can gradually dissipate, overtaken by the return to business as usual, by inertia and old habits and expediency. I see how easily we slip back into our old notions, because they’re comfortable, we’re used to them. I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been. And so I’m reminded of a passage in *John’s Gospel [First John]: Let us love not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth. If we’re to sustain the unity we need to get through these difficult times, if we are to honor these five outstanding officers who we’ve lost, then we will need to act on the truths that we know. And that’s not easy. It makes us uncomfortable. But we’re going to have to be honest with each other and ourselves.

We know that the overwhelming majority of police officers do an incredibly hard and dangerous job fairly and professionally. They are deserving of our respect and not our scorn. (Applause.) And when anyone, no matter how good their intentions may be, paints all police as biased or bigoted, we undermine those officers we depend on for our safety. And as for those who use rhetoric suggesting harm to police, even if they don’t act on it themselves — well, they not only make the jobs of police officers even more dangerous, but they do a disservice to the very cause of justice that they claim to promote. (Applause.)

We also know that centuries of racial discrimination — of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow — they didn’t simply vanish with the end of lawful segregation. They didn’t just stop when Dr. King made a speech, or the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were signed. Race relations have improved dramatically in my lifetime. Those who deny it are dishonoring the struggles that helped us achieve that progress. (Applause.)

But we know — but, America, we know that bias remains. We know it. Whether you are black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We’ve heard it at times in our own homes. If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that. And while some suffer far more under racism’s burden, some feel to a far greater extent discrimination’s sting. Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.

And so when African Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment; when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently, so that if you’re black you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested, more likely to get longer sentences, more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime; when mothers and fathers raise their kids right and have “the talk” about how to respond if stopped by a police officer — “yes, sir,” “no, sir” — but still fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door, still fear that kids being stupid and not quite doing things right might end in tragedy — when all this takes place more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid. (Applause.) We can’t simply dismiss it as a symptom of political correctness or reverse racism. To have your experience denied like that, dismissed by those in authority, dismissed perhaps even by your white friends and coworkers and fellow church members again and again and again — it hurts. Surely we can see that, all of us.

We also know what Chief Brown has said is true: That so much of the tensions between police departments and minority communities that they serve is because we ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves. (Applause.) As a society, we choose to underinvest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. (Applause.) We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs. (Applause.) We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book — (applause) — and then we tell the police “you’re a social worker, you’re the parent, you’re the teacher, you’re the drug counselor.” We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs, and do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience. Don’t make a mistake that might disturb our own peace of mind. And then we feign surprise when, periodically, the tensions boil over.

We know these things to be true. They’ve been true for a long time. We know it. Police, you know it. Protestors, you know it. You know how dangerous some of the communities where these police officers serve are, and you pretend as if there’s no context. These things we know to be true. And if we cannot even talk about these things — if we cannot talk honestly and openly not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with those who look different than us or bring a different perspective, then we will never break this dangerous cycle.

In the end, it’s not about finding policies that work; it’s about forging consensus, and fighting cynicism, and finding the will to make change.

Can we do this? Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us? And it doesn’t make anybody perfectly good or perfectly bad, it just makes us human. I don’t know. I confess that sometimes I, too, experience doubt. I’ve been to too many of these things. I’ve seen too many families go through this. But then I am reminded of what the Lord tells Ezekiel: I will give you a new heart, the Lord says, and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

That’s what we must pray for, each of us: a new heart. Not a heart of stone, but a heart open to the fears and hopes and challenges of our fellow citizens. That’s what we’ve seen in Dallas these past few days. That’s what we must sustain.

Because with an open heart, we can learn to stand in each other’s shoes and look at the world through each other’s eyes, so that maybe the police officer sees his own son in that teenager with a hoodie who’s kind of goofing off but not dangerous — (applause) — and the teenager — maybe the teenager will see in the police officer the same words and values and authority of his parents. (Applause.)

With an open heart, we can abandon the overheated rhetoric and the oversimplification that reduces whole categories of our fellow Americans not just to opponents, but to enemies.

With an open heart, those protesting for change will guard against reckless language going forward, look at the model set by the five officers we mourn today, acknowledge the progress brought about by the sincere efforts of police departments like this one in Dallas, and embark on the hard but necessary work of negotiation, the pursuit of reconciliation.

With an open heart, police departments will acknowledge that, just like the rest of us, they are not perfect; that insisting we do better to root out racial bias is not an attack on cops, but an effort to live up to our highest ideals. (Applause.) And I understand these protests — I see them, they can be messy. Sometimes they can be hijacked by an irresponsible few. Police can get hurt. Protestors can get hurt. They can be frustrating.

But even those who dislike the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” surely we should be able to hear the pain of Alton Sterling’s family. (Applause.) We should — when we hear a friend describe him by saying that “Whatever he cooked, he cooked enough for everybody,” that should sound familiar to us, that maybe he wasn’t so different than us, so that we can, yes, insist that his life matters. Just as we should hear the students and coworkers describe their affection for Philando Castile as a gentle soul — “Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks,” they called him — and know that his life mattered to a whole lot of people of all races, of all ages, and that we have to do what we can, without putting officers’ lives at risk, but do better to prevent another life like his from being lost.

With an open heart, we can worry less about which side has been wronged, and worry more about joining sides to do right. (Applause.) Because the vicious killer of these police officers, they won’t be the last person who tries to make us turn on one other. The killer in Orlando wasn’t, nor was the killer in Charleston. We know there is evil in this world. That’s why we need police departments. (Applause.) But as Americans, we can decide that people like this killer will ultimately fail. They will not drive us apart. We can decide to come together and make our country reflect the good inside us, the hopes and simple dreams we share.

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

For all of us, life presents challenges and suffering — accidents, illnesses, the loss of loved ones. There are times when we are overwhelmed by sudden calamity, natural or manmade. All of us, we make mistakes. And at times we are lost. And as we get older, we learn we don’t always have control of things — not even a President does. But we do have control over how we respond to the world. We do have control over how we treat one another.

America does not ask us to be perfect. Precisely because of our individual imperfections, our founders gave us institutions to guard against tyranny and ensure no one is above the law; a democracy that gives us the space to work through our differences and debate them peacefully, to make things better, even if it doesn’t always happen as fast as we’d like. America gives us the capacity to change.

But as the men we mourn today — these five heroes — knew better than most, we cannot take the blessings of this nation for granted. Only by working together can we preserve those institutions of family and community, rights and responsibilities, law and self-government that is the hallmark of this nation. For, it turns out, we do not persevere alone. Our character is not found in isolation. Hope does not arise by putting our fellow man down; it is found by lifting others up. (Applause.)

And that’s what I take away from the lives of these outstanding men. The pain we feel may not soon pass, but my faith tells me that they did not die in vain. I believe our sorrow can make us a better country. I believe our righteous anger can be transformed into more justice and more peace. Weeping may endure for a night, but I’m convinced joy comes in the morning. (Applause.) We cannot match the sacrifices made by Officers Zamarripa and Ahrens, Krol, Smith, and Thompson, but surely we can try to match their sense of service. We cannot match their courage, but we can strive to match their devotion.

May God bless their memory. May God bless this country that we love. (Applause.)

Her Name Is Amy

Something happened yesterday in Delaware that shook them to their core.  She knew she would be forever viewed as the student who died because of something that happened inside her school.  She woke up yesterday, got ready for school, her mind heavy with whatever circumstances eventually led to her death, and faced the day.  She probably didn’t know it was going to be her last.  Her name is Amy.

She got to school and soon after found herself in a girl’s bathroom where she then found herself in a fight with another girl.  Others joined the fight and what may have been even odds soon became unbalanced.  As onlookers excitedly watched and some may have pulled out their iPhones to film the fight, the girl’s head hit the floor.  As instincts for defense flashed out of her mind I imagine she felt a sudden jolt of pain and then nothing.  Her name is Amy.

She may have felt her soul leap out of her body.  She may have seen her mortal shell no longer a vessel for her heart and soul.  She may have seen the confusion, anger, and sadness around her death.  Depending on what she believed, many things could have happened.  She felt a warmth and a light calling to her as she was welcomed into the arms of those she lost in her short time here.  All her worries, confusion, and anxiety lifted from her in an instant.  Surrounded by unconditional love with a true understanding of what existence is truly about.  Her name is Amy.

As she met our Heavenly Father and His Son, she understood why everything happened the way it did and she was at peace with it.  She may have shared some of that light and kindness with her family on Earth, and her friends, and even her enemies.  She may have seen the endless tears stretch across a nation yesterday as people who never knew her tried to grapple with what happened.  Perhaps she knew her death may have meaning in the long run and serve as an example of much-needed change on our world.  Her name is Amy.

She may have seen the pervasive darkness that surrounded the city she called home.  The true evil, mixed with moments of grace, as the city endlessly struggles to heal itself.  She may have seen the light inside each and every one of its inhabitants, struggling to bring out that light and let it shine.  She may have seen those who do not have a home to call their own except the hard streets.  She may have seen the endless debate, trying to find fault in her death.  But she knew her death meant she would have eternal life.  She understood that her freedom was our loss and for some, nothing would ever be the same again.  She knew some would attempt to change things because of her death and she smiled.  Her name is Amy.

It was the last day of her mortal life and the first day of her eternal life.  The things that mattered to her here were still with her but in her new life she felt a connection with it all.  She saw how one pebble could have a ripple effect on those around her which spread out around the world.  A butterfly effect.  She understood that human beings could make a choice, to give her death true meaning they would need to look outside themselves to understand the multiple reasons for answering the whys.  She understood the factors that led to her eternal life and no one thing could give a clarifying and simple answer.  From the time she was in her mother’s womb until her last breath, everything mattered.  How one smile to a stranger could have lifted their burdens of the day.  How one word of anger could have darkened the light inside someone.  How one tear of sadness could have hardened a soul to indifference.  While these things made her who she was, she understood that it meant everything to those who cried for her but none could understand the entire puzzle.  Her name is Amy.

She understood that it wasn’t just about education, or boys, or crime, or authority, or lawlessness, or anger.  It was about life, in all its shapes and forms and colors.  Every action, every thought, every moment… it mattered.  She saw the pictures forming in the minds of the lost and she knew one day they would understand.  She knew God gave each of us a piece of Himself and we could never see the full picture until we returned to Him.  She saw the technology with her name everywhere and she laughed, a jovial soul-cleansing laugh that spread throughout the afterlife.  Heaven got brighter yesterday as it does when every new soul joins it.  An unending light that gives each of us a piece of that light.  She understood this in her first day.  Her name is Amy.

Tonight we’ll build a bridge across the sea and land
See the sky, the burning rain
She will die and live again tonight.

-U2-“A Sort of Homecoming”