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Be repairers of the breach for Black Lives Matter and Dallas

The last 48 hours Americans have been spent mourning and processing the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men fatally shot by police officers. Such deaths are too common in our nation.

A non-violent protest in Dallas, Texas on Thursday — a state with lax gun laws — turned into a mass shooting where at least five police officers were killed and a total of 12 were hit in a targeted attack. We are not yet sure of the motive of the snipers involved.

We are reminded, however, of the words spoken by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Violence begets violence.”

Our society is too violent. Guns are too available and mass shootings all too common. America’s criminal justice system is broken is places that leave people of color fearful that encounters with police will end in violence instead of justice. There are real reasons for these fears.

As a white man, a minister, a professor and a father, I mourn to with those whose hearts are crushed in Louisiana, Minnesota, and now Texas. We allow violence to fester by not acting with a sense of urgency to address the systemic issues of racism at work in our society, and we provide people access to weapons that can cut down men and women honorably trying to protect their city during one of the most American of activities: the right to protest and petition our government.

How long can we endure slow reforms? Do Black lives matter? Not to enough people to force changes in our legal system at a pace fast enough that mothers and fathers today do not have to fear what will happen on that day when their children encounter the police. If you are white, ask someone you know who is African-American to share with you fears shared in families today.

Will we finally take action to curb gun violence? We did not do so after children were slaughtered in Newtown. Will the lives of police officers in Dallas be the final line that Americans say cannot be crossed? Will the people descend on Congress and demand action in memory of these dead officers when we ignored our dead children?

This moment we are surrounded in darkness. Deep is the despair of the nation.

I am reminded of a familiar piece of Scripture:

If you remove the yoke from among you,the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,then your light shall rise in the darknessand your gloom be like the noonday.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;you shall be called the repairer of the breach,the restorer of streets to live in.(Isaiah 58 NRSV)

There is still hope for us. We can be the repairer of the breach. But how much more time do we have left?

Rev. Chuck Currie is director of the Center for Peace & Spirituality at Pacific University. This column was originally published at huffingtonpost.com on Thursday, July 8.