This is a complex, difficult, dangerous world we all live in. Each of us knows this, but despicable acts like what occurred in Dallas on Thursday remind us of just how topsy-turvy it can be.
Thursday, the nation was beyond angry about the shooting deaths of two black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. Friday, it is beyond angry about the shooting deaths of five officers by a black man targeting "white people, especially white officers" in Texas.
The heinous ambush has echoes of America's worst days: It is the deadliest day for law enforcement in this country since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the officers were killed blocks from where a sniper assassinated President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Now, our nation is on edge and at a flashpoint itself. Police departments in Las Vegas, Seattle and St. Louis have already announced officers won't go on patrol alone. Surely and swiftly, other changes will follow.
A day ago, we wrote, "The view of this editorial board and most Americans is that police officers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world and that they deserve respect and admiration. But with every fatal police shooting in which decisions to use lethal force appear to be made cavalierly, impulsively or out of panic, Americans' faith in the system is shaken."
We wrote, "It's more appropriate than ever to wonder what might be wrong with police training or police culture or both."
This country can carry on multiple tough conversations at once. But today the nation should focus less on the institution of policing and more on the brave men and women in it.Like us on Facebook to see more editorials, essays and cartoons. >>>
In Dallas, as protesters panicked at the sound of gunfire and fled as fast and as far as their feet would carry them, they were protected by officers who then rushed the other way, toward the shots, some toward their deaths.
Today is a day to thank an officer for all that they do because they do a lot for us. Seriously, stop one on the street and say thank you. Show your appreciation for the complex, difficult, dangerous jobs they do.
In San Diego, as just one example, officers responded so quickly in a series of attacks and murders on the city's homeless population this week that a suspect was in custody less than 24 hours after the police chief had called the crimes "some of the worst I have seen in my 34 years of law enforcement."
Early Friday, Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters that most of his wounded officers have been released from the hospital and are recovering. Here's how we help them recover more quickly: Continue showing respect and admiration for all the nation's officers in the days ahead.
Are there bad actors among them? Of course. There are small numbers of bad actors in education, finance, medicine, journalism, in all professions, and we need checks and balances to root them out and to replace them with people of better character. Their character counts. Ours does, too.
"All I know is that this must stop -- this divisiveness between our police and our citizens," Brown told reporters Friday. "We don't feel much support most days. Let's not make today most days. Please, we need your support to be able to protect you from men like these, who carried out this tragic, tragic event."
See also: Arrest in brutal San Diego homeless attacks a relief