Turning point


This morning in Oakland, hundreds, if not thousands of law enforcement officers from all over the country, perhaps even the world will gather together to put to rest the four Oakland police officers who were gunned down last weekend.

When the first reports of the shootings happened, you could feel the shock waves throughout the Bay Area.  Tragic.  Ugly and tragic.   Some of the video and pictures of how deeply other officers were shaken by this event were heartbreaking.  Then as the week went on we all came to learn more about the shooter Lovelle Mixon.  Not only was he wanted on a parole violation, only days before the shooting he was linked by DNA to the rape of a 12 year old girl, and possibly other rapes.   This shooting was not done by a scared, misunderstood inner city youth, but by a very, very bad man.

Today’s funeral is going to be huge.  It will take place in the 19,000 seat Oakland Arena, with spillover seating in the Oakland Coliseum.  Freeways will come to a virtual standstill as massive funeral processesions make their way to and from the final resting places of each of the officers.  The funeral will be broadcast live on a number of Bay Area stations, as well as streaming over the internet.  I know I’ll watch what I can from work.

But, then after the ceremonies where the tears will flow freely, then what?  The pain doesn’t stop there, but life has to get back to normal, or at least the new version of normal.  Where does that pain go?

My deepest hope is that all that pain does not turn into anger and a need for revenge.  It’s understandable, certainly.  Some even think it is entirely justifiable.  And anger has a whole lot more energy behind it than just feeling the pain of the loss.  The anger may even feel noble or righteous.  But, it’s still just anger.

I wish for all involved that they can channel their pain into compassion.  Compassion is not wimpy.  It’s not a coddle the criminal mentality.   Compassion is a strong force for good.  Compassion wants to help.  Revenge is not in compassion’s vocabulary.  Compassion would reach out to those officers families with support.  Compassion would make sure all the surviving officers can take care of their own mental and physical well-being. Compassion would help the community of East Oakland with wise, appropriate police protection, and with educational opportunities for their youths.    Compassion would work to make sure that others, whether police families or community families, never have to feel the pain of the loss of having a loved one murdered.

So  say a prayer, light a candle, keep a good thought,  or whatever it is you do to acknowledge people who are going through a tough time.  May all this pain some day transform into something positive.


13 responses »

  1. I’m with you. I did watch coverage of the funeral today. Very sad. Even on TV you can feel the shock that is still over the bay area.

    May compassion reign over revenge.

  2. I do think this is a turning point in changing the community of Oakland. I do believe there will be a new reaching out and a positive change will come from this. New bridges will be made with new resolutions to old problems will start to grow.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me, how it takes an event as tragic as this to bring about the ideas of change, of breaking out of old molds and reaching out to each other to find mutual understanding.

    However, I have been watching the news as well, and the reaction in Oakland isn’t all about harmony and understanding. And while I’m sure the media isn’t representing the majority, there are some who believe the fallen officers got what they had coming.

    This kind of attitide is the real problem here. People blame race, they blame hate, and they blame a police force thats is understaffed and overworked.

    I understand this last bit and deal with staffing issues and the effect these issues have on people. Its not an easy job, and as is plainly apparent, people in this service can pay the ultimate price for their dedication.

    There is always hope for change. There is always hope for a better understanding. I for one actually believe that. My heart aches for those that have been lost. There are people whose lives will be forever different because of the actions of one person.

    I believe it is important to remember, though, the loss of any life is tragic to someone, somewhere. A mother, a sister, someone loved this person, even with the issues at hand. And their loss, while certainly viewed differently by many on the outside, is no less real. They too will live altered lives and face their own sense of loss.

    I agree, LB, that hopefully somewhere, some good can come from this. I fear, though, that any change in the positive is a long time coming.

  4. Adam – You’re right, this one tragic event did not touch everyone’s heart. Yes, there was at least one vigil that was more pro-Mixon and anti-police. But, there were only a few dozen there, compared with the hundreds that showed up in the same community for a vigil for the lost officers. Not to mention the thousands who showed up yesterday at the public service.

    This is not to say there are not problems between the police and some mostly poor, African-American communities. I’m just hoping this tragedy will help the community develop a bit more empathy for the officers and recognize their humanity, and for the officers to be able to understand the pain of a community where far too many of their young men are lost to senseless violence. Both sides have a role in the solution.

    Corina – amen, sister.

    BQ – I do hope you are right. I’d be interested in hearing how this affected the Oakland kids you work w/ on Saturday morning.

  5. I hope I was clear I in no way support the Mixon side. I do, in every way, support the healing for both sides of the issue.

  6. Hi LB

    I’m afraid anger is so ordinary, and compassion is so extraordinary, that it’s simply unlikely to pan out the way you (and I) would like it to pan out.

    Those least affected personally may be able to come out of this with some sort of compassionate mindset. But compassion at a distance is relatively easy. For those most affected, it will create damage that will last for years. And the anger will be uncontrollable for a very long time. And it will wreak havoc in their lives.

    I’ve been there.

    Bur suffering does have good qualities. Some people are lucky in that events like this may help to awaken them to the realities of this life – to the inevitability of death, to pervasive suffering and the general meaninglessness of living a life without purpose. Of course, this sort of awakening may take a long time to happen and may only surface when the anger starts to lesson.

    For most though, it’s likely to be just an endless cycle, and this pain will give rise to more pain, more anger and recrimination, and probably further suffering.

    Its hard to transform adversity if you don’t have something like buddhadharma to help you do it. Your delusions will just take you down other paths of suffering.

    A bleak analysis, I know. But that’s the way it is.

  7. “For most though, it’s likely to be just an endless cycle . . .” thatz why Betty Boop never slept with KoKo the Clown but Roscoe on the other hand was somethin else ~

    it was thousands by the way = sisterhood and brotherhood inda hood for the good dewin watt they think they shud ~ if only they kud = say stay pray 4 a day ~ pay n play then drift away

    NO WAY ~ Compass Shun is da rite die reck shun

  8. just fur the reck cord ~ day due sey anger iz apart of the greifing process sew the problem aint in hair ently anger but watt getz done withit sew like LB says Hearz prayin it gets em awl wear day need to grow ~ including the dead guyz

  9. I hadn’t heard about these shootings, they weren’t on the news over here in Australia as far as I can see – which is an even more shocking indictment when you think about it, that four police officers getting shot dead in the line of duty doesn’t make headlines around the world. Anyway, I hope that compassion wins out over revenge.

  10. Hi, I found your blog a while ago…I think it must have been a post on meditation and Spirit Rock. I live in Davis and have been to SR a few times. Anyway, I kept your blog bookmarked. I also wrote about the shootings today on my blog (kimtb.wordpress.com). The wife of the first officer who was shot is a family friend. And what I didn’t write, is that she is African American. She was also a cop for a short time, but left the force after being taken hostage by a gunman (who killed her partner). To do this kind of work takes an amazing kind of person.

    Anyway, I just wanted to delurk and tell you how much I enjoy your writing. Even the hard stuff, like this.


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