By Sandra Stratman, Paso Robles Resident

I can no longer stay silent.  

I have been mostly quiet on social media when it comes to protests, rioting, and all the horrible things we are witnessing right now. If I say something in support of Law Enforcement, I’ll be told I don’t support POC (which I do). If I say something in support of POC, I’ll be seen as anti-law enforcement (which I’m not). But today is different. I can no longer stay silent. Today I stand up and speak out. Not for a specific race and not for a specific group of people… I stand up for all of humanity.  

The quietness stopped when I read about the two L.A County Sheriff’s Deputies who were shot this past weekend. My heart sank, and tears rolled down my eyes when I heard the news as I come from a law enforcement family.  

My family signed up to “protect and serve” and we are well aware of the risks. But it still hits too close to home knowing we could be the ones getting the knock on the door.  

My heart sinks similarly when I hear of a suspect being shot by an officer because justified or not…a life was lost, and there is a family out there mourning that loss. 

It also sinks, knowing that any shooting by an officer, justified or not, exacerbates the issues we face, making both sides feel unsupported. 

But what made this one different is the fact that a line was crossed when protesters gathered around the hospital where the deputies were being treated. They tried to break in, and they chanted, “I hope they die!” It’s one thing to protest, but my God… where

is our heart for humans? When an officer wrongfully shoots a person, you do not see them trying to break into the victim’s house/hospital and chant, “I hope they die!” So why is it OK for people — not even involved in the L.A deputy shooting — to show up and try to break into the hospital chanting, “I hope they die”?  

As I was trying to make sense of this, I reflected on how my Cuban-born mother and Mexican-born father raised me. They came here because America was the land of opportunity. My mother worked in corporate America and later became a state-certified translator. My dad became a police officer and was involved in his community. He was respected not only for the job he had but for treating everyone with dignity — even the bad guys. They taught us to work hard and be grateful for the opportunities given to us in the “Land of the Free.” They taught us morals, respect, and dignity. They taught us to give back to the community and get involved. They taught us not to watch things go by but to instead make things happen. 

After reflecting on how I was raised and reflecting on this weekend’s tragic shooting of officers, I keep asking myself the following questions: Where did our morals go? Where did respect for humankind go? Where is our country going? Are we no longer the Land of the Free? 

As parents, are we being too easy on our kids? Are we forgetting that our job as parents is to raise independent, respectful, and contributing members of society? Are we forgetting that no matter what demographic, we can all succeed? Are we giving in to the pressures of evil that is out there because it’s an easy way out? Are we talking about doing our part but not acting on it? And finally… will the riots ever stop?

I’m sad, I’m angry, and I’ve been in tears about this, but I came across a quote that gave me hope: 

“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.” ― Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I hope sharing these wise words will bring forth compassion and empathy for all and inspire others to get involved to be the change we so desperately need because enough is enough! In the meantime, I will continue to pray for God to seep into the hearts of those so bitter and angry as well as for the peacemakers trying to make change.  

Getting through this together, Paso Robles