The past few weeks have been truly trying times for our state and nation: the ambush and murder of five police officers in Dallas, the tragic deaths of two African American men at the hands of police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the horrific act of violence in Orlando. The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health grieves for all the families and communities directly affected by these acts of violence; and our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, their loved ones, and the greater community.
We also recognize the impact these tragic events are having on all of us. Trust and respect has been eroded and is in critical condition. Indeed, our humanity is being tested. This is a time for each and everyone of us to rise up and say, “No more.” It is a time to reach out to each other in support with respect and love. We are more alike than we are different. We are about family and community. Take the time to say “Hello” to someone you do not know well or at all.
As details about the Dallas gunman’s motivations come to light it is important that one thing not be overlooked: the kind of community-mindedness we are seeing on display in Dallas can be a balm in times of trauma, and that it is important that we all recognize that the best of what our state represents – tolerance, good humor, neighborliness and civility – serves us especially well in times of crisis where we might otherwise be tempted to give in to our baser instincts. Whatever we might eventually learn about this incident, its significance will not outweigh that of the community resources – material, social, spiritual – that normally help us cope.
I say this not just as a member of this community but as a mental health professional. Regardless of the incident, remembering who we are helps to ensure that the initial shock of trauma gives way to optimism and open-heartedness rather than fear and suspicion.