Four violent July days have pushed the country deeper into a state of what the French sociologist Émile Durkheim called anomie - turmoil born of a breakdown of societal standards.

On July 5, Baton Rouge, La., police fatally shot Alton Sterling after tackling him in a convenience store parking lot where he was selling CDs. On July 6, a St. Anthony, Minn., police officer stopped Philando Castile for a busted taillight and ended up killing him in front of his girlfriend and her daughter. On July 7, with video of both incidents stoking rage over police use of deadly force against African Americans, a gunman assassinated five police officers during a protest in Dallas. And on Sunday, violence returned to Baton Rouge with the fatal shooting of three police officers there.

Even before this bloody month, the country had grown used to daily slaughter in our cities and all but numb to regular mass shootings. Not even the wholesale killings of children in Newtown, Conn., worshipers in Charleston, S.C., or revelers in Orlando had a measurable political or policy impact.

Amid growing cruelty, the country has drifted from its moral center and norms. Pulling it back will be hard, but not impossible.

The Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality will continue because the work of the civil rights movement is not finished. But the marchers should be joined by those who claim to be our moral guardians. Priests, imams, rabbis, and ministers should be on the streets and in the conversation. They are called religious leaders, and now their leadership is needed.

Their presence could help make the case that while anger, fear, and frustration are justified, threats and violence are not. Peddling CDs or losing a taillight shouldn't earn anyone a death sentence. At the same time, the police who run toward trouble while most of us run away deserve our gratitude and respect.

Wouldn't the tenor of the city's protests change, for example, if the conveners of the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia - Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Rabbi David Straus of Main Line Reform Temple, Imam Anwar Muhaimin of the Quba Institute, and Bishop Claire Schenot Burkat of the Evangelical Lutheran Church - joined the crowds and police on Broad Street?

The clergy don't have to prepare sermons or lead marches. Nor do protesters and religious leaders have to agree on all the issues or tactics. But surely they can all agree on the core moral principle that murder and cruelty are wrong and help the country return to a more promising path.