Former Vice President Dick Cheney says in his defense of the torture tactics used by the CIA during the Bush Administration that the tactics were not “torture” as defined by the Justice Department.  One has to wonder whether or not the media should be interviewing this senile old man in the first place.  Besides, his remarks are predictable and horrible in that all it does is to poor more negativity upon an already negative and angry public.  His unbridled remarks only gives rise to more fanatics like Senator Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachman.  Why do we need to know or even care what fanatics are saying?  All they know how to do is to criticize.  In the meantime while covering Cheney’s misguided remarks and the antics of Ted Cruz both houses of Congress reluctantly and narrowly pass a short-term spending bill preventing another shut down of the Government.  We should know by now how strategic Ted Cruz’s and Dick Cheney’s actions are being choreographed. Not only is Cheney defiant he is dumb. And he is resentful of President Obama’s presidency.
      There is more coverage by the media of Cheney’s defiance than coverage of the demonstrations and protests in Washington. D.C.  Did you see the report on hundreds of pages of documents “inadvertently left out” by the Missouri Prosecutor handling the Michael Brown case? We need to keep our eyes on the prize which is not about what Dick Cheney is or is not saying.  We should keep our eyes of the prize which to my mind is finding newer and better ways to address the great racial and cultural divide in America.  We should be having serious discussions about changing the paradigm on how we should approach a growing distrust of the very men and women in law enforcement sworn to protect rather than punish and kill mostly African American men. And yes, we should be having discussions and dialogue on the rise in black on black crime which is destroying the once revered fabric of the African American communities around the country.
      We might give consideration to establishing what one of my devoted surrogate son’s is proposing and that is to make the Dr.M.L.King,Jr. holiday a day of “Peace and Partnership” with police precincts across America. Houses of worship of all religious faiths would join with policemen in a service of dialogue, discussion and discernment. There must however, be guided strategies to follow the demonstrations.  We are under no illusion that Peace and Partnership programs will solve the problems but it is a start.  I have some experience of the positive impact a congregation can have on law enforcement.  During my pastorate in Brooklyn Heights, New York one of our signature programs which continues to this day is recognizing the policemen of the 84th precinct every year in a Sunday service of worship.  During my ministry I at First Presbyterian Church I had direct communication with the police officers of the precinct.  I conducted sensitivity training sessions at the precinct, spoke regularly at the beginning of their work day, met often with the leadership of NYPD, thus establishing a relationship and partnership with them. Me and my clergy colleagues were often called upon in tense moments with the precinct and the community.  Our presence made a difference.
      I continue to believe there is a still more excellent way to address the disconnect and distrust between the police and the community.  I continue to believe we are smart enough to find solutions to the growing tensions between the police and the community.  I am clear that the recent verdicts handed down by the grand juries in Ferguson and on Staten Island are reprehensible and has placed a huge stain upon law enforcement in America. I grieve at the sight of the mothers of young African American men shot to death and who have come together to express their outrage over the loss of their sons. Black lives do matter and we must not let these mothers voices be silenced.  But we must also come together to find solutions to the problems lest they keep happening.
      Somehow we need to find ways to change the atmosphere of anger and violence and mistrust within law enforcement in America. As long as the negative voices in our political system continue to be heard above the efforts of groups like One Ferguson and those peacefully demonstrating around the country all we will have is more violence and disruptions.  Dick Cheney’s comments and reasoning are divisive and angry causing those who support his point of view to act in the same manner.  It is our right to disagree and to express our point of view which is one of the best practices of a democracy. However, when those views are laced with angry words and personal attacks the outcome is predictable.  There must be room for civilized discourse to take place.  There must be room for differing points of views but it need not be nasty and confrontational and divisive. May we come together in one accord to find solutions to the many issues confronting our nation.  With the help of the Creator, I know and believe it is possible for us to find the still more excellent way.
And so it is!
Dr. Paul