OC Register: We Must Not Be Enemies
'We must not be enemies': Irvine church takes a symbolic step toward restoring frayed racial ties
From the Orange County Register
A week after the killing of five police officers, civilians and religious leaders as well as police already are coming together in an effort to resolve the tension between many African Americans and law enforcement.
In a prayer thread ceremony at Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine on Thursday, Orange County sheriff’s deputies, Irvine police, elected officials, Jews, Muslims and Christians tied string around each other’s wrists and vowed to tie diverse communities together.
“It’s wrong for five police officers to die in Dallas,” the Rev. Mark Whitlock said. “It’s equally wrong for two men to die. We are here today to hold a love fest.”
Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel followed. “We are committed that our young people grow up with faith, not fear. We are committed to trust.”
To be sure, America has a long way to go before nerves and fears are soothed after a history of racism, police shootings and last week’s killings of the Dallas officers. And prayer threads are just a symbol.
But symbols can help grow movements, and movements can change the course of a country.
Born and schooled in South Korea, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi came to the U.S. as a Peace Corps language instructor for the State Department before earning his master’s and doctorate degrees. He, too, has found himself on both sides of race issues.
“Today, America is angry,” Choi said. “We gather in this hour to support one another.”
Choi closed with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln: “We must not be enemies.”
Whitlock stood before the Irvine police chief, tied a piece of light brown string around the officer’s wrist and offered a blessing. Hamel returned the gesture.
As others tied bits of string, whispers of peace filled the room. Of course, 100 pieces of string don’t mean much. But thousands do.
And tens of thousands of prayer threads can weave a new tapestry for a new peace.