OVERCOME HATRED AND VIOLENCE
Police Officer Leroy Smith helped a man wearing National Socialist Movement attire during a rally on Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Columbia, South Carolina. Officer Smith thought he was doing nothing more than what he should. As a police officer dedicated to public safety and a humane human being, he came to the aid of a “white supremacist” suffering from heat exhaustion. The distressed man was participating in a Confederate Flag rally marked with racist and hateful overtones. The Officer saw a man in distress rather than a “white supremacist” thus breaking the stereotypes and prejudices that often infect our judgements. In this day and age when so many powerful political and influential religious leaders call for violent and forceful responses to any aggression, insult, or injury, Officer Smith’s example is refreshing and transforming.
We, at The Interfaith Peace Project, are always looking for the powerful example of people like Officer Smith. Across the World we can encounter women, men, and children who challenge the instinctive impulse for revenge. They invite us to develop the skills of compassion and understanding.
Perhaps we are witnessing the dawn of a new way of thinking and acting. Perhaps we are moving beyond the instinctive desire for revenge as we learn to empathize even with those who might oppress us. Perhaps we are discovering the power of diplomacy over war. Perhaps peace born of justice is not just a dream. Thank you Officer Smith for your fine example and words:
“Our men and women in uniform are on the front lines every day helping people — regardless of the person’s skin color, nationality or beliefs. As law enforcement officers, service is at the heart of what we do. I believe this photo captures who we are in South Carolina and represents what law enforcement is all about. I am proud to serve this great State, and I hope this photo will be a catalyst for people to work to overcome some of the hatred and violence we have seen in our country in recent weeks.”
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
With the Board of Directors