My brother has served on the Oakland police force for the last 10 years. He was on duty on March 21, 2009, the day a 26-year-old felon named Lovelle Mixon murdered four members of the OPD. After shooting the two officers who stopped him on a traffic violation, Mixon stood over and shot them both in the head, execution style. He then fled to his sister's apartment building. Mixon was hiding in a closet and ambushed the officers who entered, killing two of them and wounding a third, making it one of the deadliest days in California law enforcement history. In the weeks that followed, DNA evidence tied Mixon to the rape of a 12-year-old girl the month before and to the rapes of two young women that same morning.
Five years later, my brother and many of his colleagues on the force are still struggling with the aftermath of that tragedy. My brother does not know why he lived when his friends died. Many who remain on the force struggle with PTSD: in this past year two officers committed suicide.
I have thought a lot about how one individual can cause such pain and suffering for so many others. Four lives lost, at least four families devastated, and countless others who have been hurt by what I would call evil.
Then, it occurred to me that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if the universe will allow one individual's actions to cause such suffering, that the same must be true for those who work for the greater good. As individuals, the actions that we take can also significantly impact others' lives for the better. Just as the effects of March 21 are still being felt five years later, we may not know how acts that we do today will reverberate through people's lives in the years to come.
So maybe we are all called to pay back the evil these men and women have endured with good works, good works that honor these fallen peace officers and may help to heal both them and our communities.