As the website states, “[t]his project asks us to seek the humanity in all people, even when we have committed terrible crimes. At heart, it asks whether we hope someone might offer grace to us, at our ugliest or most difficult moments.”
At first I elected to do the project because it allowed me an opportunity to be (what I thought would be) a unique voice within the dialectic. I wanted to be a voice of a LEO spouse showing the sort of compassion and humanity that will not be seen portrayed through informational narratives, and maybe by that, be a bridging voice. Well, whatever propels one to action or gets you somewhere, right?
What was (is) going on with me, emotionally and existentially at the time, was (and still is) a desire for understanding, a desire to love righteously beyond my personal understanding of “rightness”. I wanted to be “in” Truth -- love-infused, merciful, just, and humble Truth, and to be and to act out of that place.
The Lament Project randomly assigns the writers a date, and gives them the name of someone who died (officer, or died by an officer’s involvement) from the previous day. Thus it was I was “assigned” the person for whom I must lament -- a man the likes of who, in a different context, might one day be the cause for someone else writing a lament for my wife. Being “in” Truth, speaking humanely, yeah, “it asks of you” an immersion which very well promises only the two exclusive certainties: drowning, and joy and Life in “swimming”. As I have found through this project, the hope for connection with my greater community is found only in “swimming” in humane thought.
In perhaps a sad, quiet way there was little reporting on the character or history of this deceased, 60 year old white male. No reference to his job, his marriage status, his family, his background; at least not in the first 48 hours of news reporting. I had to base my picture of him on what many of his generation have told me of their experience. In this I painted a general picture of a man and of an ethos of a certain age touching every man of that generation. In the absence of his words I painted the regrets of a husband and a man as I knew them, assuming he was no worse than I.
My bi-fold point is this: Firstly, when I call for mercy and circumspection in this greater discussion of Life, and in the particular discussion of Law Enforcement, I know the costs (the effort, the risks, the pain potential and real) of that for which I make my call, knowing only therein is Truth, Life, humanity, and value of life found. Such will not be found in angry rhetoric, sophism, antagonism, vitriol, nor even opinionated “rightness”. I will make the bold claim that, not even in causes themselves will humanity be found, but only in humane causes humanely pursued. Secondly, as I hope my efforts show (as they have shown me), the discussion is one of humanity, and not one of causes; is one of social injustice and not political ideologies against guns nor presumed matters of heart for a whole collective society. The discussion is one of social injustice, classism, poverty and selfishness and lying narratives devoid of humanity.
Speak not to me of evils until you too have lamented the dead, all dead.