It is often the most simple kindness that marks our humanity.
In all the chaos that ensured in Charlotte this week, one all too brief moment stood out...when a young African-American man walked up to a white policeman and gave the startled officer a hug and patted his shoulder. A broad smile lighted the officer's face as he lifted the visor of his riot helmet.
On the back of the man's T-shirt were the words 'free hugs.' Those words are priceless.
And those words instantly devalued all the shouted words of accusation, of bitterness, of anger that were lifted to the ears of massed protesters by megaphones.
That one young man told us more about what we should be as Americans than the hundreds of protesters, some of whom veered into lawlessness, looting and pillaging. In the melee of the second night of protests a man was shot to death; not by police, but by one of those who were breaking windows of storefronts and carrying away their ill-gotten loot. The accused murderer in now in jail thanks to video that recorded his heinous act.
Keith Lamont Scott, the African-American man shot by Charlotte police, should have justice. And the wife and children he left behind should be assured that whatever the result of the investigation into his death, it is fair and truthful. As Americans all, we should expect no less from those whom we entrust to protect us.
While this is being determined, we should follow the example of that young African-American man. The next time we see a police officer, smile. And if we have the opportunity, thank them for the protection they provide us. And the next time we see an African-American neighbor, or friend, or fellow worker, or teacher - give them a hug. A hug will bind us together far more than anger.
Long ago in catechism class, I was told we are all created in God's image. The other lesson I learned from that nun so many years ago - God sees His beauty in all of us whether our skin is dark or pale, or somewhere in between.