Violence Hits the Streets of Dallas: Will It Ever End?
On July 7, 2016, rising racial tensions in America erupted into horrible violence in Dallas, Texas. Why does this keep happening, and when will it end?
We are not used to warfare in our streets. For most Americans, this is something that happens in far-flung places on the other side of the earth—not here in the United States. But on July 7, war came to the streets of a major American city. This has really struck home to us at the Life, Hope & Truth offices—because most of our staff live only minutes north of downtown Dallas.
Though we don’t know all the details as of this writing, here’s what we do know. July 7 there was a demonstration in downtown Dallas protesting police brutality. Though the protesters were demonstrating peacefully, at least one individual (and possibly more) decided to use the event to make a point by perching himself in a building and shooting down at police officers.
At the time of this writing, five officers have died and another seven are injured, along with at least two civilians.
The amateur videos being played on the news stations show rapid gunfire echoing through the streets of Dallas, officers running for cover under their cruisers as bullets rained down on them, and fearful onlookers trying to make sense of the carnage in front of them.
With five officers dead, this event is now the deadliest day for American law enforcement officers since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, 71 officers died as they tried to rescue people from the World Trade Center. If you look at the faces of those who died that day, you see light and dark faces—blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians. On that September day nearly 15 years ago, New York City was the war zone; with the lives of 3,000 people snuffed out—just because they went to work in downtown Manhattan that morning.
The officers who died July 7 were very similar—they simply got up that morning to do their job and got caught in the middle of something they had nothing to do with. None of these officers were connected to the shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or Falcon Heights, Minnesota (which apparently inspired the shooter to do this). But, in the mind of at least one man, they deserved to die just for being in uniform.
This bloodbath took place within a few blocks of another location where shots once echoed throughout the city of Dallas. Almost 53 years ago, a few paces away from El Centro College (where the recent shootings took place), President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in downtown Dallas by a sniper also perched in a building.
Though these three events happened over a span of 53 years, they all share one similarity—human beings making a point by killing other human beings they didn’t even know. Lives, families, hopes and plans—all ended to make a point.
But it’s not a 2016 thing, a 2001 thing or a 1963 thing. Though the specific reasons for these three acts of violence were different, they were all symptoms of the truth recorded by the prophet Jeremiah over 2,500 years ago: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
Violence seems to be the universal language all human beings understand. It is how we make our points and solve our problems. Though there have been many noble efforts to change us, human beings keep going back to their default method of problem solving.
As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The way of peace they have not known” (Isaiah 59:8).
Is there a more appropriate eight-word description of our world?
Is there any hope that mankind will at some point have a revelation that violence only destroys and does not solve our problems?The future of peace
But is that just the way it is? Is that how it will always be?
Is there any hope that mankind will at some point have a revelation that violence only destroys and does not solve our problems? Could mankind—all 7.4 billion of us—ever collectively come to this realization on its own and voluntarily chose to live in peace?
- Could people willingly stop committing violent crimes—not just because of the fear of consequences, but because they realize it destroys themselves and society?
- Could law enforcement officers come to the point where they would never have to apprehend anyone and never consider doing it violently if they did?
- Could nations willingly stop resolving their differences by sending their next generation to do battle?
- Could terrorists realize the folly of killing innocent people to make whatever point their particular organization is trying to make?
The hypothetical questions could go on and on.
Sadly, the answer is no. Human beings will not come to these realizations by themselves. What happened in the streets of Dallas will happen again and again—and it will get worse (Ezekiel 7:23).
Jesus Christ prophesied that the end times would be like this: “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. … And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10, 12, emphasis added). This describes our world, but it also describes worse times to come. Hatred and violence will continue to ramp up around the world until it explodes into a time when human survival will be in doubt (verse 22).
But the story doesn’t end there. There is good news. And that is the reality that Jesus Christ will intervene. He will return to earth and stop mankind from destroying itself, and He will use the only thing man can understand—overwhelming superior force (used in a totally righteous way).
Revelation 19 describes Jesus Christ descending to earth surrounded by armies. He will come with “a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron” (verse 15).
Initially, it will take overwhelming force to stop the carnage. But after the violence is stopped, Jesus will then tackle the roots of the problem. He will build a new society on His law—which itself is built on the principle of love. Then nations and individuals will “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4)—symbolic language showing that the implements of violence will be destroyed and replaced by implements of production.
Pray for the families of the fallen officers. Pray for those who were injured Thursday night. Pray for the city of Dallas that it would find healing from this tragic violence. Pray for America—that its rising racial tensions might be resolved and healed. Pray for our world—that the violence and suffering taking place in all its regions might end and people might have the opportunity to live their lives, raise their children and pursue happiness.
But, most of all, pray for Jesus Christ to return soon—to establish His Kingdom and put an end to violence of all kinds. Jesus said our prayers should include repentance—changing our thinking and our actions (Matthew 6:12; see also Isaiah 1:15-20). Yes, we should pray and then get up and resolve to practice the principles of peace in our lives now. We must not let our love wax cold—we must remove all traces of hate and violence from our hearts and minds.
By doing this, you can start laying the foundation for the future world tomorrow—today.
To learn more, read our past blog posts on these themes:
- A Week of Mass Murder: Why So Much Violence in America?
- Gun Violence in America: God Isn’t Fixing This?
- Race Riots in Ferguson
- Now Is the Time to Protest