Before she was a suspect, she was getting groceries on her way home from work.
Before he was a "thug," he was just a kid in a hoodie.
Before she was a victim, she was eating ice cream in her apartment.
Before he was a hater, he was Daddy's little fishing buddy.
Before she was a bigot, she was in Mrs. Chaney's Sunday School class.
Before he was a Proud Boy, he was a volunteer firefighter.
Before she was a white supremacist, she was a soccer mom.
Before she profiled the driver, she was keeping an eye on her own kids.
Before he roughed up the suspect, he was fixing his neighbor's toilet.
Before she fired the shot, she was training new officers to use restraint.
Before he coerced a confession, he was playing hoops with the guys in the park.
Before we judge or condemn, before we imprison or execute,
Before we forget that there is guilt enough to go around and no one's hands are clean,
Before we give up this world to hatred and let the blood flow in the streets,
Before we watch hope die and wash what's left of love down the sewer drain...
Can we ever get back to before? What's done is done, we know. Nothing can undo it.
Too much tragedy, too little justice. The wounds are deep.
But can we not remember before, what was true before, who we were before?
Can you and I reclaim some piece of who we used to be, some fragment of innocence lost?
The after is so awful. Such wreckage and ruin, anger and despair. Before fades into darkness.
And yet, grace stands in the shadows, grace for the turning, if we would, to begin again, to return to the way we were ... before.