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.