I couldn’t have said it better myself

Published 1:05 pm Saturday, July 9, 2016

As the events of the past week have unfolded, beginning with the police shootings of two men in Louisiana and Minnesota and culminating with the assassination of five Dallas police officers Thursday night, I have struggled to come to terms with where we are as a country, as a world, as a people. On Friday, my friends on the editorial board at The Virginian-Pilot managed to simply and eloquently put into words what I have been unable. With their permission, we are sharing their thoughts with you here.

America is at war with itself.

How did we get here?

For just a few days, let’s stop screaming at each other over the omnipresence of guns in our society, over the racist brutality of rogue cops, over the fear that pervades too many neighborhoods and communities this day and every day.

Let’s just stop and mourn and wonder how in the world America became this unspeakably, relentlessly terrorized place.

How America became a nation where black men fear for their lives during a traffic stop. Where police officers are scared of the skies during a protest in a major American city.

Where dozens of gay people can be slaughtered on a Saturday night. Where children aren’t safe in a Connecticut first-grade classroom, or lecture rooms at Virginia Tech.

Whether we recognize it or not, that is who we are now. We are a nation at war. With ourselves. Daily. Constantly.

Our divisions are myriad. The common thread remains the lethality of the weapons used, whether with a sniper’s precision or with a spree killer’s mania or with a mother’s ruptured sanity.

We grope for answers and find them in Islamic extremism or racism or mental instability or parental neglect or. Or.

Or, simply, this is who we are now. A nation mourning again. Questioning again. Finding no answers again. Coming together again to mourn our dead. Again.

That union will be too brief, as it always is now, ended by ambitious politicians who can’t wait for the blood to dry. By our tribal politics in which too many Americans will sacrifice too many values for one more electoral victory. As if that defines this nation instead of what we do to comfort each other and end this violence.

We are better than this.

This morning, we are five officers dead in Dallas, shot from above by a sniper positioned for maximum carnage. We are a Minnesota man shot in his car, reaching for his wallet, by a panicked patrolman. We are 49 people killed on Latin Night in an Orlando nightclub by a man who professed allegiance to Islamic State. We are nine people killed at a Bible study in a Charleston church by a white supremacist trying to spark a race war.

We are the dead and we are the living. We are the mourned and the mourning.

We are a United States soaked in the blood of our divisions.

By the end of this day, those divisions will most certainly grow deeper. But we are better than this.

We’ve created and abetted this society, allowed it to be overseen by leaders singularly incapable of inspiring the unity of purpose necessary to end his war among us, leaders who divide us with reckless rhetoric and self-forgiving prayers. People shouting at each other about who’s fault it is.

But we are better than this. We have to be better than this.

A choice must be made: We can be the America of constant bloodshed. Of greedy and incompetent politicians. Of tireless division and vituperation.

Or we can be something better. Something glorious. Something united, for a change.

Tony Clark is publisher of The Tidewater News, and is grateful to his friends at The Virginian-Pilot for agreeing to share their work with our readers.