This August, over 500 of America's most capable and accomplished athletes will march into the Maracana Stadium together during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics opening ceremony under the banner of the American flag.  On the playing field, the backgrounds of these athletes do not matter.  They are each other's support, friends, and teammates.  They are all Americans.

The camaraderie, love, and unity we celebrate during the Olympics is America at its best and is the America we hope to experience in cities, neighborhoods, and households around our country.  However, nothing can obscure the suffering caused by the recent deaths in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas--as well as the anxiety produced by the protests that surrounded them.  All of the turmoil leads us to wonder about the future of our country.

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As elected leaders, the burden is on us to set an example that looks past politics and considers above all what is best for our nation as a whole.  That is why two unlikely partners -- a Democratic African American civil rights leader and a Republican Caucasian law enforcement veteran -- have come together to say enough is enough.

The stakes are too high:  the inestimable cost of human life and the intricate, interwoven fabric of our society.  To ensure our struggle does not lead our nation to tear apart at the seams, we are left with only one viable choice: We must find a way to build a bridge toward dialogue, civility, transformation and ultimate peace.

Traveling this path together begins with the recognition that we all share the same goal.  Everyone wants to live securely, knowing that their loved ones are safe in their own communities. It is the only way we can achieve the mutual respect and understanding that is central to any beloved community and is the foundation of a civil society.   We need to walk in each other’s shoes.   

In many neighborhoods across America, the wounds are deep and the fault lines are wide.  It will take time and hard work to regain the trust and civility that has been lost or to build these attributes where they never existed before.  But it must begin and end by realizing we are one people, one family, the human family.  We all live in one house, the American house, the world house.  But if a veteran law enforcement officer and a veteran activist, a Democrat and a Republican, a Southerner from the Southeast and a Northerner from the Northwest  can commit to work together for the common good, you can too.  We must all learn to live together as brothers and sisters, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, or we will all perish together as fools. We can do it. We must do it.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.