Moving Beyond Anger as Dallas Begins to Heal

"We need to learn how to tolerate differences," Dr. Janet Taylor said.

— -- Memorials are spreading across the country as America remembers the lives lost in recent police-involved shootings.

In one extraordinary Sunday service, Dallas Bishop T.D. Jakes led a town hall addressing the anger and pain so many feel, and also discussing how people can find hope moving forward.

Jakes turned the regular service at his Potter’s House megachurch in west Dallas into a community event as people came together to comfort, mourn and find answers.

“Dallas needs a big hug. America needs a hug,” he told the audience of several thousand people.

The nation is still numb after last week’s deaths of five officers and two young black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

“I haven’t slept or ate since he passed,” Saundra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, said at the town hall Sunday

“I woke up this morning and I felt lost,” Lt. Steven Gentry of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said of his friend who was shot before his eyes.

Jakes reminded the audience that although it seems especially difficult, there is hope.

“It is possible for us to love one another, to work together and be on the same side,” he said.

“I received phone calls and text messages from my students and, of course, it’s a school with all-black males. Some were literally in tears saying, ‘What do we do?’

“They were devastated at the shootings on Wednesday and Thursday in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, partly because they feel like there’s this inescapable violence. They said, ‘We go to a great school, we’re well-education, but we can’t escape the possibility of violence.’”

Hill said his students were also devastated about the shootings of the officers Thursday.

“They were also worried that that narrative would erase the narrative around black male violence, or violence against black males and women around America,” he explained. “They’re lost. They’re trying to figure out what to do. They’re looking for answers to move the country forward.”

Dr. Janet Taylor, a New York psychiatrist, explained the difference between such anger and fear, and how they affect people day to day.

“Fear is an instinct, and our brains are constantly working to see if we’re safe or if we need to look for something to survive,” she said. “That fear, in terms of feeling threatened, is a normal reaction. It’s largely unconscious. But the anger is a secondary emotion, and it’s a reaction to what’s going on. Emotions are normal.

“We are so used to looking for happiness, which is important, and joy, but sometimes we have to be rooted in pain, so we can work through it,” she added.

“And before we can get to love and healing, we have to look at ourselves, our own lineage, our own beliefs, what’s been told us about other people, and challenge that so we can break that.”

Taylor said we need to learn how to listen.

“As a nation, we need to learn how to tolerate differences and learn how to listen to understand, which means stop with the automatic thoughts and really be there in a way; it’s time right now,” she said.