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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

A Few Thoughts After Last Week's Tragedies

In the wake of last week's tragic violence, I want to share two things--Charles Blow's column in the New York Times on Friday, and Robert Kennedy's speech after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The messages delivered by Blow, a black journalist in 2016, and RFK, a white senator in 1968, share the same impact—even delivered 48 years apart. Both men expressing heartbreak over senseless racial violence, both men encouraging everyone to recognize that, yes, “all lives matter,” but all lives don’t matter until black lives do, in fact, matter.  

Hundreds of journalists and activists have published hundreds of articles and op-eds in the past week, all of which can give you a better cultural understanding of the past week’s events than your elected officials. I do want to add one thought of my own: in countries like Great Britain, shootings of all kinds, including by the police, are extremely rare—because very few people, including police, have guns.

As Blow so eloquently said last week:

Anger and vengeance and violence are exceedingly easy to access and almost effortlessly unleashed.

The higher calling — the harder trial — is the belief in the ultimate moral justice and the inevitable victory of righteousness over wrong.

This requires an almost religious faith in fate, and that can be hard for some to accept, but accept it we must.

The moment any person comes to accept as justifiable an act of violence upon another — whether physical, spiritual or otherwise — that person has already lost the moral battle, even if he is currently winning the somatic one.

When we all can see clearly that the ultimate goal is harmony and not hate, rectification and not retribution, we have a chance to see our way forward. But we all need to start here and now, by doing this simple thing: Seeing every person as fully human, deserving every day to make it home to the people he loves.