The shooting of unarmed or non-threatening black men by police officers (white or black) is one more evil shredding our society. Those tragedies lay bare two interlocking fears, fear of other races and the fear of, yet reliance on, guns. It is inexcusable, yet at the same time understandable, that the police (if they do not deny what they have done) say they were in fear for their lives. They were. As long as we allow ourselves a society where every encounter may involve a lethal weapon, we all live in fear.

Our nation has two different illnesses: One is fearful distrust between descendants of slaves and the heirs of enslavers, while the other is an addiction to guns for their own sake.

These two diseases are as distinct as cancer and heroin addiction, but when you have both, each makes the other less curable. There is a wave of our fair-minded youth motivated to break us free of the gun addiction. To follow their lead is to start healing ourselves.

Richard Sewell