These Are All Tragedies

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As a person, I think, “I can’t look at these pictures anymore.”

But as a person, I have a responsibility to look at the pictures. And remember the pictures. And question the pictures.

As I sat at my desk reading the news Tuesday morning, my gut clenched. The lines of men with bold-lettered shields facing off the crowds of bold-faced youth are not images to soon forget. And they should not be forgotten.

I didn’t want to read the headlines, but I do want the stories of Baltimore in flames and pain to stay in my heart. Because although I am not directly involved in the cause, I am a person who interacts with other people. We should all be educated on the pain of others — but why are so many choosing to educate with violence?

Most of us have a cause we want to fight for, but not everyone fights the same way. Most people don’t want to fight with pepper spray and punches. Freddie Gray lay in his coffin “with a pillow bearing a picture of him in a red T-shirt, against a backdrop of a blue sky and doves, with the message ‘Peace y’all.’” 

And mere streets away, suffering was set on fire because a community has something to say. Their pain is not being recognized. But now, there is nothing but more pain to be reckoned with, whether you looted stores or wore a badge.

What we should ask people who employ violence in search of peace is this: “Would you want your child, your mother, your brother, to be on the other side of your guns and rocks?”

Not one single person would answer yes to that question.

How can peace be achieved when those seeking it are requiring violence? Every action has a reaction, whether it was the policeman or protester that made the move. Each building burned, each body bruised, each Baltimore block bloodied—these are all tragedies.

I don’t care which side you are on. To burn in search of peace is to burn ourselves.

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