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The news last Friday made my heart sink ... yet another instance of violence that left lives shattered and bodies broken.

Mothers and fathers now left without sons ... wives whose husbands were taken away in an instant ... children now without a parent ...  brothers gone silent ... all because of a decision made by one person, the apparent culmination of his frustration with his perceived injustice in the world.

The world isn’t always just. I agree. Life is not always fair, and the right decisions don’t always prevail. We live in a world with millions of people with frailties. We are human. We watch over one another, try to help each other and try to build and rally our communities to improve our quality of life.

But ultimately we are each responsible for our own course in this life, and the responsibility “to do the right thing” lies within each of us. We have rights in place, rights identified early on by the forefathers of our country to ensure that each individual was protected, including his or her right to life, liberty, and the right to bear arms. These rights were documented as a means to protect humanity, not become a shield behind which to hide.

When one right adversely impacts another right, which one wins? How is one individual’s right to bear arms more important that another’s right to life? It is an age-old question, but one that still lacks any real answer.

As our communities become more and more numb to the violence that is reported daily, I wonder what, exactly, it will take to make a change.  Exactly how low will we go? It frightens me to know that the violence continues to escalate, and just when you think it’s as bad as it can get, it gets worse.

“Rights" do not trump the moral compass that each of us should be using to navigate this world.

We have laws in place for a reason, to protect each individual residing in this country. The laws should apply to all regardless of race, orientation, religion, and socioeconomic rank. When you break a law, you need to be held accountable because it’s the law.

The individuals who help to enforce the laws in this country provide a tremendous service. It is dangerous and often thankless. They deal with the lows of humanity that many of us cannot even imagine, yet they return to work each day in an effort to make this world a safer place to live. It takes a very special person to do this job well. And when you step back to think of the vast number of police officers required to ensure safety and fairness throughout this great country of ours, please realize that there are many, many good men and women fulfilling this role to the best of their ability, in spite of the very trying times in which we live.

My husband is a police officer, and I know each time there is a report of police-related violence that reaches the media it further erodes his faith that his efforts to perform his job effectively and compassionately will be recognized by the public that he serves.

When injustice occurs at the hands of a law enforcement professional it needs to be managed like any other individual who breaks the law, because it’s the law. Justice should not know or care about any of the variables that society so often calls into place when rendering opinions about an individual’s guilt or innocence.

Justice does not see in color, orientation, religion, or socioeconomic rank. Justice sees right vs. wrong, and that is what it is designed to do.

The impact of decisions made by each individual are so far reaching — beyond themselves, beyond their family, and beyond their community. If we really want to effect a positive change to this world in which we live, it starts with each of us.

Respect yourself, respect others, follow the laws that govern our land and recognize the good around you, because in spite of the news, there is a lot of good. And for this we need to be thankful.

— Jessica Thomas and her family live in  Lower Windsor Township.

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