30 August, 2016

Larry Conley - Bio Poem


Lives in: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, planet Earth, Milky Way.

Who is: Liberal, Inquisitive, Genuine, and:

Wishes to: facilitate improvement wherever possible; fight for the right whenever necessary; stand up for justice whatever the risk.

Dreams of: America being, indivisible, as good as its ideals with liberty, equality, prosperity, and justice for all.

Wants to: fulfill the roles of husband, father, friend, and citizen optimally.

Wonders: why so many find it so hard to do the next right thing and the next ad infinitum.

Dreads: failing to rise to a challenge when it truly matters.

Likes: soccer, Chelsea FC, hockey, volleyball, women, Spanish, reading, movies, classic rock, flowers, forests, and waterfalls.

Believes: in Dao and Zen, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the premises and promises of the American Republic.

Loves: his wife, his sons, his shelties, his cats, his friends, learning, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and FC Barcelona, and the struggle to achieve a better world for all humankind.

Plans: to live as well as he can,t for as long as he can, and do as much as he can to make the world a better place than he found it at birth.

Core Convictions:  The known is a drop; the unknown is an ocean. We do not know what fate awaits us. We only know we must be brave, and fortune favors the brave!

As the Dao which can be named is not the eternal Dao, so the self that can be described is not the absolute self, but I tried to the best of my abilities to candidly and comprehensively set forth my understanding of myself. 

18 August, 2016

PA DEMS 2016 - Letter to the Editor Guide

If you want to help Hillary Clinton and Democrats across Pennsylvania, you’ve come to exactly the right place. We won’t be successful without Pennsylvanians getting involved and talking to your neighbors about why this election is so important. We are working together to build this campaign from the ground up and elect Democrats to offices across the Commonwealth, and one of the most efficient ways you can get involved is by writing a letter to the editor. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get your family, friends, and neighbors writing letters.
Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is easy and one of the most effective ways to reach a large audience to talk about the importance of the election and issues important to you.  LTEs appear on the editorial page, which is one of the most read pages in the paper.

Unsure how to write a letter to the editor? Follow these quick tips:
      Make it Personal. Editors want letters in their papers to be original and from a reader. Be sure that you take the time to write the letter in your own words and write about an issue that you care whether it’s women’s equality, racial justice, climate change, marriage equality, voting rights, investments in infrastructure, campaign finance reform, college affordability, or protecting Social Security and Medicare.
      Keep your letter brief. Letters should be concise but make sure your first line is catchy, compelling and attention grabbing! In general, letters should be under 200 words, 150 or less is best. Editors are less likely to print long letters.
      Use Facts.  When addressing specific issues, use as many facts as possible.  You can find out some facts about Republicans and their out-of-date policies as well as Hillary’s record at https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/.
      Respond to an article or an issue in the news. Letters are most likely to be printed on topical and current issues.

You can learn more about Hillary’s vision for Pennsylvania and facts about her by visiting https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/.

If you have any questions or concerns about content, email letters@pavictory2016.org. Don’t forget to send us an e-mail us when a paper publishes your letter!

Ready to submit?
Please follow the submission guidelines for each newspaper. If emailing, please include your full name, your city of residence and telephone number.

LTE Submission Link
Alexandria Times-Tribune
The Allentown Morning Call
Altoona Mirror
The Scranton Times-Tribune
Bloomsburg Press Enterprise
The Bradford Era
Chambersburg Public Opinion
Clarion County Explore Clarion
Potter Leader Enterprise
The Doylestown Intelligencer
Bucks County Courier-Express
Lehigh Valley Express-Times
Erie Times-News
Gettysburg Times
The Harrisburg Patriot-News
Hazleton Standard-Speaker
The Indiana Gazette
The Tribune-Democrat
Lebanon Daily News
Times-News (Carbon/Lehigh  County)
Bucks County Courier-Times
Dauphin Press and Journal
Milton Standard-Journal
Montgomery County Times-Herald
Metro - Philadelphia Edition
Philadelphia Daily News
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Tribune
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pottstown Mercury News
The Pottsville Republican Herald
The Reading Eagle
St. Mary's Daily Press
Twin Tiers Morning Times
The Scranton Times-Tribune
The Shamokin News-Item
The Sharon Herald
The Somerset County Daily American
Centre Daily Times (State College)
The Pocono Record
The Somerset Daily Item
The Daily Review (Troy County)
The Uniontown Herald-Standard
Delaware County Daily Times
Observer-Reporter (Washington County)
Wellsboro Gazette
The Daily Local News
The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre)
Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre)
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
York Daily Record
York Dispatch

09 August, 2016

Up to Us - Rise and Renew National Unity and Global Sanity

On March 19, 2011, a friend wrote these perceptive and provocative words - "The guilt belongs to you and me, the society of people lavished with riches. And what was built can be torn asunder by our own silence. It’s comin’ to our door, Baby. I know that. ‘Cause we only cared about our own appetites and fed ourselves plenty. Now the world has gone mad and I just need you to sing to me, Baby, while I try to pray for lost souls and scattered angels."

The insights are hers, but the emphasis is mine. What she said over five years ago, rings true more than ever today, She also cited Professor Andrew J. Bacevich from Boston University as follows: "Transformation is not something that outsiders can induce or impose or control. The process is organic, spontaneous and self-sustaining.”

For its faults and all its flaws, the American Constitutional Republic is a polity committed to and capable of continual improvement. While too many of us have too often been derelict in our duties as citizens and too immersed in our private lives and personal struggles, we have had the good fortune of honorable leaders who have at crucial moments recalled us to the "better angels of our nature." At such times, the polity in which we live has afforded us the opportunity to raise the level of our conduct and demonstrate the caliber of our character,

These splendid appeals to reason and benevolence merit prolonged attention. Let us never forget it is perfectly possible and eminently patriotic to fervently oppose divisive demagoguery and ardently oppose those who incite suspicion, resentment, hostility, and divisiveness among us. Let us be satisfied with a clear conscience as our only sure reward and go forth to lead the land we love in perfecting our union and fully achieving one nation, indivisible, with liberty, equality, prosperity and justice for all.

Now the trumpet summons us again as the barbarian is within the gates in the person of Despicable Donald Drumpf. This megalomaniacal demagogue presents a clear and present danger to the survival and success of the Republic, the perfection of our union, and the achievement of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, Drumpf is the exemplar of self-absorption and personal aggrandizement. Even as he campaigns, he pollutes the political discourse with appeals to fear, suspicion, bigotry, and bellicosity.

These splendid appeals to reason and benevolence merit prolonged attention. Let us never forget it is perfectly possible and eminently patriotic to fervently oppose divisive demagoguery and ardently resist those who incite suspicion, resentment, and hostility among us.

In this context, I respectfully offer the following thoughts and observations.

It is easy to be hostile. It is risky to trust. In a world gone mad and a nation divided, free-floating hostility is a predictable response.

Hostility nourishes and supports the ego. Trust requires lowering one’s guard, risking disappointment, and testing one’s character.

Hostility can be very dramatic, complicated and sophisticated. It can make one appear quite impressive to others. It can camouflage cowardice and make bravado pass for courage. It drapes cravenness in the cloak of valor. It drowns out the whimpers of a quaking soul with the roar of rage.

Trust, on the other hand, is an expression of sincerity, humanity and composure. Others could be suspicious of our intentions, resentful of our efforts or envious of our fortitude.

Those who choose hostility, expend a great deal of energy and effort to maintain their state of rage. They stoke fear, suspicion, resentment, and bigotry in others in order to have a million mirrors for their own warped soul. By contrast, those choose trust actually, gain vigor and resilience from the additional options and positive perspectives this choice brings to light.

The choices between hostility and trust, enmity and amity are ones we all must make in each moment, repeatedly, day after day. Choosing the former rips and rends the social fabric; choosing the latter strengthens its warp and woof.

The far, far better course for our children, our nation, and ourselves is to run the risk of deception and disappointment and endure the errors and betrayals, which are, after all, humanity’s lot than to promote and practice aggression and suspicion. The first, more courageous, course offers the hope of revival and deliverance. The second, all too alluring, coursetoo commonly precedes cruelty and conflict. Whether we choose hostility or trust is completely up to us.

We, the people, are the true sovereigns in the Republic. Despite the relentless efforts of those who would divide us in order to rule us, we can strum the mystic chords of memory and summon to our aid the better angels of our nature. In years to come, will we look into the eyes of children we love about and tell them “We had the opportunity to make a difference, but lacked the courage to try?”

For the sake of the Republic and the land we love, let us rise and restore Power to the People. Let us remind Despicable Donald: "Time wounds all heels!"

Dao Is Never Done

Cosmos lays cloaked beneath apparent chaos; in all disorder abides a subtle order. All civilizations and all human beings, whatever their seeming cultural or conscious development, still harbor archaic remnants and tendencies beneath the stability and serenity. Just as the human body connects us with the mammals and displays numerous traits of shared evolutionary progress going back to at least the reptilian age, so human knowledge, understanding, wisdom, development, and culture are likewise products of evolution and vulnerable to devolution. The Dao is never done, and the story is never fully told while the world and life endure.

The way that can be named
is not the enduring way.
Dao is not the word; neither do our names
define nor limit us.
We, like truth, are not becoming;
we and truth are being!
Truth does not stop and start!
Truth streams and swirls.
The way of all truth
is the way for us all!
No one of us is what any one of us thinks.
No one of us is even what each of us thinks.
Neither is the whole truth or our full truth
what some say or what some call us.
Horrible slurs or noble honorifics
Hear all and heed none.
Neither the absolute truth
nor the fullness of our truths
are known or told until
time itself goes still!
DDJ Verse 1
R. Lawrence Conley

15 July, 2016

The American Political Process


"Pick a leader who will make their citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people, so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader’s greatness. Only then will a country be truly great, when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honorable decision makers, and peacemakers. And in these times, a great leader must be extremely brave. Their leadership must be steered only by their conscience, not a bribe."

“When picking a leader, choose a peacemaker. One who unites, not divides. A cultured leader who supports the arts and true freedom of speech, not censorship.”

Though far from perfect, the American presidential election process has been improved since its inception. As things now stand, two distinct, but not incompatible, sets of interests are the major determining factors in the process. First, the interests of the Parties. Though they have no Constitutionally prescribed role, the Republican and Democratic Parties play a major role in both American elections and in governing America. Although candidates compete for offices, parties control and operate the levers of government. A divided Federal Government makes this especially evident. The second set of interests is those of the citizenry. There is considerable dispute about how to best address these interests, but substantially free and demonstrably fair elections play a key role in all honest attempts to do so.

The process begins with voter registration. The individual citizen is responsible for this step. In every jurisdiction, citizens can register with one or the other major party or registered as unaffiliated [or some variation thereof]. This choice often determines the level of participation a citizen may have in the first electoral phase whether that is a primary election or a party caucus. If one intends to vote in a primary or participate in a caucus, one must be responsible enough to ascertain the rules in one’s state. If the primary is a closed primary and one registers as unaffiliated or some variation thereof, then voting in the primary will be precluded by one’s considered action. Such an outcome exemplifies the application of the rules, not rigging the rules; it demonstrates a willful disregard of the rules and then, whining about the foreseeable consequence!

The rules now in place for Democratic primaries are over thirty-years-old. They have not been set to favor any current candidate. If rigging took place, it did so decades in the past. Therefore, any obsession with the rules of the process beyond knowing what they are and using them to one’s best advantage is a waste of time and effort. One does not recruit and field a Football team and then, demand field players be allowed to handle the ball despite the venerable rule prohibiting it. In this case, politics is similar to Football.

Whether done through a primary or a caucus, the first stage is where Party nominees are selected. Primaries are elections, but caucuses are not. Participants express their preferences in the open, not in secret; they last for hours in contrast to voting which typically takes less than an hour and often takes minutes. Caucuses happen during a limited time on an appointed day and almost always in the evening. In addition to every other difference, this means caucuses by their nature preclude participation by people with inflexible schedules or unchanging commitments. Due to these significant variations, the outcomes of primaries and caucuses are not directly comparable.

Primaries and caucuses operate to choose the nominees of parties. Parties are legal organizations, but they are not governmental organizations. They do not have to accord all citizens access to levers of power when it comes to setting rules and conducting their efforts. As long as parties do not engage in criminal or fraudulent actions, they are completely free to do what they think best. In the early 1980s, the Democratic Party leaders decided to set rules for their primaries and caucuses. They wanted to ensure that the party did not pick a candidate that had no reasonable prospect of winning. Roughly four decades have passed since the rules were adopted, so it is evident that they were not intended to favor any candidate in 2016. What has happened is that one candidate and campaign knew and applied the long-standing rules and the other candidate and campaign ignored and complained about those same rules.

2016 has been a tumultuous campaign year.  The turmoil is likely to get worse as the primaries end, and the general election phase begins. In the future, a greater knowledge of the two-stage American Election Process would make things go smoother. A few other changes would be helpful as well. First, modify or repeal laws and regulations that give undue advantage to the Democratic and Republican Parties. Such changes would enable the Libertarian and Green Parties to make inroads or at least gain ballot access. Second, eliminate caucuses which are not genuine elections and have no clear connection to the actual elections which take place in November. Third, close all primaries. Because primaries operate for the purpose of choosing party nominees, only party voters should have a say in choosing the nominee. Any citizen who wants to vote in a primary can register for the party of her or his choice and vote in the appropriate primary. Once the nominees of all parties are chosen, pass or repeal as necessary legislation to ensure that all citizens of age have unabridged access to the ballot box.

In the past five decades, insurgent candidates and campaigns have arisen and recurrently claimed such things as “there is not a dime’s worth of difference” between the major political parties. This line of argument gets more credence than the evidence suggests it deserved even when it at first, and it is preposterous now! In the second decade of the 21st-century, the major parties are almost diametric opposites.  The Democratic Party strives to govern and the Republican Party schemes to rule. The Democratic Party is hierarchical but consultative and consensus driven. The Republican Party is hierarchical also, but functions in a highly authoritarian manner. The Democratic Party believes proper governance is a major force for improvement in society. The Republican Party seeks to sabotage and subvert governance at the federal level and supplant it with oligarchy rule at the state level.

The clear differences between the major parties are aggravated by the emergence of Donald Drumpf as the Republican Presidential nominee. This deceitful person brings a clear and present danger to the fore which previous Republican nominees have been careful to disguise. Deceitful Donald is a committed authoritarian and thus, epitomizes the evolution of the Republican Party that began with the conservative coup under Reagan. As David Frum, a Republican of high repute makes clear a minimum of seven danger signals apply directly to this scoundrel. First, the alarming manner in which this candidate for president of the United States speak and acts.  “From the founding of the republic, Americans have looked to qualities of personal restraint as one of the first checks on the power of office.” 

Deceitful Donald exhibits no personal restraint whatsoever. Any power inherent or assumed in the office of the president would be pushed to its limits and beyond by this megalomaniac.
The second alarm is the utter absence of trustworthiness in this politician. “The dark arts of politics include dissimulation, evasion, and misdirection. Outright lying, however, happens more rarely than you think in politics, especially in high and visible offices like the presidency.  ”Deceitful Donald’s "dishonesty, however, is qualitatively different than anything before seen from a major-party nominee. The stack of lies teeters so tall that one obscures another. Lies about New Jersey Muslims celebrating 9/11, lies about his opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan war, lies about his wealth, lies about the size of his crowds, lies about women he’s dated, lies about his donations to charity, lies about self-funding his campaign. Senator Cruz spoke truly for once when he said: in May 2016. "But the man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him.”

The third alarm arises due to this potential president’s deep and admitted ignorance of governance and public affairs. Deceitful Donald “is surely the most policy-ignorant major party nominee of modern times, or perhaps of any time. As with the lies, it’s almost impossible to keep track of the revelations of gaps in his knowledge. The most spectacular may have been talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt’s exposure of the fact that Drumpf lacked the most basic understanding of the structure and mission of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This appalling ignorance is made even more threatening by “the massive Republican and conservative rejection of the idea that a candidate for president should know anything substantive about governing at all.” In Deceitful Donald, an arrogant ignoramus has been enthusiastically embraced by masses of citizens who see ignorance as a positive quality.

They fourth alarm differs from the others in that often it is in itself alarming: ideology – Deceitful Donald can barely use principle in a sentence let alone articulate and abide by any principles. He is perhaps the first candidate of a major party in American history who to whom “unprincipled” applies with total accuracy. Now, the ideology of the Republican Party is increasingly discredited, but it was nonetheless a veneer that hid the power lust of so many Republican politicians, With Drumpf, the thirst for dominion is openly displayed.
The fifth alarm is Drumpf’s nonchalance concerning the primacy of national security.  Deceitful Donald “has no relevant experience, no military record, scant interest in the topic—and a long history of casual expressions of sympathy for authoritarian rulers.” He unblushingly stated his military advice comes from TV talk shows.” Drumpf slights NATO as obsolete, and says “he has plans to withdraw American protection from allies who don’t spend more” whether or not it breaks up NATO.  He’s spoken favorably of Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear weapons, to provide for their security by, apparently unaware of the tensions between those two U.S. allies. Finally, he mused open-mindedly about Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear weapons. There is no competent person who does not believe such developments would make both America and the world less secure and more endangered. Deceitful Donald’s “foreign policy is predicated upon an apocalyptic vision of the United States as a weak and fading country, no longer able to shoulder the costs and burdens of world leadership.” As is so often the case with Republicans, Drumpf would take actions that cause the very failure he insisted was already well underway. In this case, the failure could be of catastrophic dimensions.

The sixth alarm rings the loudest and clearest for all Americans of goodwill and genuine patriotism: Deceitful Donald turns into Despicable Donald with his flagrant abandonment of the “deep belief in tolerance and non-discrimination for Americans of all faiths, creeds, and origins” that once functioned as a barrier against viciously destructive politics. Disrespect for targeted groups—including the very biggest of them all, women— recurs regularly as a theme of the Drumpf candidacy. Deceitful Donald seeks “not to be president of all Americans, but to be the clan leader of white Americans. Those white Americans who respond to his message hear his abusive comments, not as evidence of his unfitness for office, but as proof of his commitment to their tribe.”

yThe final fire bell ringing in the gathering gloom of 2016 may be the most portentous after World War II once fierce religious rivalries blurred into the broad categories— Protestant, Catholic, Jew–which in turn discovered new affinities for each other in a common creed of “Americanism.” From this creed sprung a new and vital loyalty to the nation as a whole. Partisan identities have hardened since then. “Today, far larger proportions of Democratic and Republican voters hold strongly negative views of the opposing party than in the past,” observe Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster in their paper, “All Politics is National: The Rise of Negative Partisanship.” Negative partisanship is the argument deployed to reconcile anti-Drumpf Republicans to their party’s nominee.” People who have called Deceitful Donald everything but a good person now say they will support him over the loathsome Democratic Harpy Hillary Rodham Clinton. Disturbingly people who label themselves conservatives seem poised to aid and abet the election of a candidate that threatens the survival and success of the American Constitutional Republic and perhaps, the habitability of the planet Earth. What precisely do they believe they are conserving through such a course of action?

2016 brings all Americans to another time that tries our souls whatever we may conceive souls to be. The foundational principles and fundamental promises of America are written in completely intelligible form. We have almost to a person at one time or another sworn or pledged true faith and allegiance to these principles and promises. Now is the time to fulfill our oaths and redeem our pledges. Let us stand our country now and thereby earn the love and thanks of generations yet unborn in America and around the globe.

Why Is This Happening?


“The wind of change is blowing, and we see in our day and our age a significant development. Victor Hugo said on one occasion that there is nothing more powerful in all the world than an idea whose time has come. In a real sense, the idea whose time has come today is the idea of freedom and human dignity. Wherever men are assembled today, the cry is always the same, "We want to be free." And so we see in our own world a revolution of rising expectations. The great challenge facing every individual graduating today is to remain awake through this social revolution…. And now through our moral and ethical commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] - or we will all perish together as fools.”
 MLK, Jr, 14 June 1965
"What we need in the United States is not division," Kennedy told the crowd, "what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black."
 RFK 04 April 19

In the wake of shootings in Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas, it is probable that many are asking themselves and others: “Why is this Happening?” There are no easy answers that are also helpful responses with a high probability of being correct. Nonetheless, it is apparent that something is seriously wrong. A follow-up question, springs readily to mind: “What can we do and who should do it?”

NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said, "In these violent and horrifying times, when a new generation is waking to call for police accountability, economic and educational equality and protecting the right to vote for all people,” America and all Americans face a significant moral moment. The lynchings of the past, today often take the form of police brutality or mass shootings. Forty-nine innocent and peaceful people were slaughtered by a vicious coward who disapproved of their presumed lifestyle. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are the latest names added to the list of victims. Five peace officers in the proper performance of their duties were senselessly murdered in Dallas, too — but their vicious execution will not end the summary execution of black Americans, and it will not bring Americans together and put us all on the path to improvement, justice, and peace. Lives are in danger, and some of that danger comes from the very people who sworn to keep the peace and protect and serve all citizens. Too many Americans in too many localities are all tense, angry, devastated, suspicious, and grieving.

All of us can draw solace in the fact that the outrage over this 21st-century form of lynching is not isolated to the black community. Americans of all races and ethnicities are fighting to put an end to the epidemic of gun-facilitated violence particularly — in this country. Now is the time for Americans to come together as one people in grief, in protest, and in resolute pursuit of effective, measurable, and genuine change.

It can reasonably be asserted that radical reform of policing practices, policies, and laws at all levels must be made — immediately. The current approach is taking too many lives for no good and sufficient end. As if tensions were not high enough, at 12:40 AM on Saturday, Houston police shot and killed a man they allege pointed a gun at them despite surveillance footage from a nearby gas station that suggests otherwise.

Furthermore, no sane and humane American can condone sniping at law enforcement officers when they are properly, even superbly as happened in Dallas, performing their legitimate duties. Police are citizens too; they also have civil rights and like every other American have a right not to be killed as they peacefully go about their business. With the death toll mounting, Americans of goodwill must step up and speak up. Black lives matter as do Blue lives. Now, leadership and citizenship of the highest order must rally and bind up the nation’s wounds, comfort the grieving families, establish a just and lasting peace among ourselves grounded in an enduring regard and unwavering respect for one another regardless of complexion or clothing.

The Constitution is not merely a historical artifact. It is a charter of governance and the playbook for the American polity. We, the people, are not all one color. We cover the entire spectrum of human skin tone from the palest of the pale to the darkest of the dark. The Republic to which almost all of us have at one time or another pledged allegiance is not its land mass or its populace. It is a promise continually in the process of being kept or broken. In fact, many Americans, including every police officer, have sworn oaths to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and the Republic it ordains and established.

The shameful, known but often unacknowledged, the truth is that too many of us do not keep our pledges and fulfill our oaths. We do not recognize every American as a full and equal citizen. We do not insist that all people in official capacities carry out their duties consistently in a manner that affords all citizens equal protection of due process of law. We do not demand that every American be accord all the privileges and immunities of any citizen. We allow the 15,400 strictly local law enforcement, police and sheriff departments with armed officers, [according to the latest report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics] half of which have less than ten officers and have special challenges to operating with little consistency in training or procedures across them. Furthermore, we tolerate the situation described by David Weisburd, executive director of the Center for Evidence-based Crime Policy at George Mason University, who said. "There are many departments that simply poorly train and lead their officers." Thus, all of us have work to do to make a genuine equality of rights a reality for every American and to ensure that all citizens are protected and served, rather than some being persecuted and slain.

We must stand in solidarity with all people of goodwill; we must join with fellow activists; we must work hand in hand with members of our community. We must contact our elected officials to demand life-saving reforms to a broken system. We must speak out and promote inclusive attitudes and an end to bigotry whether explicit or implicit. We must call on each and every American to insist that the dream of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all be realized far more pervasive throughout the land for every citizen.

Delores Jones-Brown, professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice says, the effects of more diversity on police rosters are unclear. “The research is divided on the issue of whether or not diversifying police departments has any specific impacts,” she explains. “There’s one set of research that says that regardless of the identity of the police officer, they become part of a police culture and in that police culture there is an ‘us-versus-them’ personality. The police put themselves and their own safety ahead of that of the general public, and they believe they have a right to go home at the end of the shift,” regardless of what that means for other people, Jones-Brown says. Thus, what evidence there is suggests that simply diversifying is not a panacea. Also, whatever the complexion [or gender] of individual police officers, when they put on the uniform, they become blue. Accordingly, Jones-Brown says, “A combination of diversity and better training should lead to better results.” It seems that better training and more rigorous insistence on the application of the training should, in fact, take precedence over diversification although both can be done more or less concurrently.

Paradoxically, the Dallas police department had committed itself to transparency. It developed a new foot pursuit policy that emphasized de-escalation. It made police officers in Dallas subject to lethal force training every two months instead of every two years. The number of body cameras used by officers increased. Poor performing police officers were fired. And after Brown declared that traffic citations were not intended to “raise revenue,” his officers issued half as many tickets at last count as they did in 2006. Thus, Dallas was actively pursuing the steps many think likely to diminish excessive force and diminish lethality. This police department was doing many right things right. In many ways, the Dallas Police Department represents the best, not the worst, of American police departments.

David Brown, Dallas Police Chief, and a member of President Obama’s Police Data Initiative said, “So far this year, in 2016, we have had four excessive force complaints. We’ve averaged between 150 and 200 my whole 33-year career. And we’ve averaged between 18 and 25 police involved shootings my whole career. We’ve had two so far this year.” These statistics will offer little succor as the city of Dallas grieves for the five police officers killed Thursday night. The legacy of these reform efforts, however, and the trust they engendered, do offer hope that the city may be prepared to begin to heal its wounds in the days and weeks ahead. Finally, Chief Brown urged protesters holding demonstrations over the deaths of Sterling and Castile—and over the resurgent debate over race relations and policing practices in the United States to “become a part of the solution. “We’re hiring,” he said. “Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we’ll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.”

Chief Brown has a record to build on and a sound perspective. These are troubled and troubling times. What we need in America is not division, hatred, lawlessness, and violence. The great challenge facing every citizen alive today is to remain engaged, rather than enraged, through this turbulent interval. Each of us must make an ethical and practical commitment to amity toward, cooperation among, and justice for all and learn to live together as brother and sister citizens – lest we perish together as fools. We can set out together on the path to justice. We can – and we –  must come together and end this carnage by and against all citizens and all those sworn and empowered to serve and protect them. Divided we are likely ineffectual. United we are virtually invincible.