A Lesson in Compassion

Za’layia’s funeral is today.

I’ve been following this story closely these past few weeks with a heavy heart. A few weeks ago, Za’layia was jumping rope with a police officer and she asked the officer to keep her safe. And the officer couldn’t. Her family couldn’t. It all happened so quickly.

I can only imagine what Destiny, Za’layia’s mama, is feeling today. But I do know this: I know that she loves that little girl. I know that she wanted to protect her from being hurt.

Destiny made a statement to the press and addressed the person responsible for her daughter’s death, saying “I just want whoever did this to my baby to know I don’t hate you for what you did. I just need you to turn yourself in. I need justice for my baby.”

In that moment, she showed a capacity for reconciliation and compassion that simply astounded me. In the midst of her own grief, she spoke to that person without a trace of rage or contempt. I don’t know if I’d have enough compassion in my heart to even speak the name of the person who took my daughter away. But Destiny–you did. Your ability to love moved me deeply.

Destiny, I am sorry for the loss of your baby. She is a beautiful, precious child. We hold the story of Za’layia in careful hands. We hope the person responsible steps forward so there can be justice for you & your child. We hope that grief will not spill over into violence, fear, or indifference but into greater reconciliation with each other. I hope to be a person with an extraordinary capacity for compassion toward others–a person like you. I learned that from you this week, Destiny.

And I am deeply sorry for the price paid for this lesson.


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