Week 27 of #songaweek2016 was a horrific one in US news. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, shot and killed by police officers. Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, shot and killed by a sniper at a protest against Sterling’s and Castile’s treatment by police.
All seven of these men, real people, with complex lives and stories, each with a constellation of people who loved them, people who depended on them, people who knew them as the human beings they were. The ones who took their lives, I believe, didn’t see past the color of their skin or the uniforms they wore.
I spent a day trying to write a song in light of these events. Nothing was working out. Then I came across a quote from Jeff Hood, organizer of the Dallas protest, and the song almost wrote itself. Interestingly, the quote originally appeared in this article, but didn’t survive the article’s updates since July 8th, the day I read it. I had copied the text and saved it in the course of working on the song, so here it is:
[The Rev. Jeff] Hood, one of the organizers, said he spent hours searching for his wife as chaos unfolded in the streets.
“Ultimately, I spent those three hours talking to people, asking the question, ‘Why? Why? Why is this happening? The only answer I know now, and the only answer I knew then, was turn to love, we’ve got to turn to love, we’ve got to stop shooting.”
Everything is broken everything is bleeding
everyone is crying out for relief
everything is shaken everything is shattered
everyone is deeply aching for peace
turn and return eternally
turn to love
this is nothing new, no this is just the latest
page in a story we’re weary of
where fear and hate and greed gain strength and gather speed
and take aim at the suffering body of love
give it all your heart and give it all your mind
soul, strength, voice, eyes, ears, hands and feet
be patient with your neighbor show mercy to the stranger
be brave in generosity