This is a sad week in America. It should have been a happy week. It should have been a week of celebration but instead it is a week of mourning. My Facebook wall has been deluged with so many conflicting thoughts from my friends. I’ve said it before; I have a diverse group of friends on most issues. I don’t believe this is an issue that can be addressed in 140 characters or maybe even 140 years!
First, I’m not a black or dark skinned individual. I have no way or no right to tell others how they should feel. You feel how you feel; whether I think it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. If I don’t feel the same on that issue, that shouldn’t force me to negate your feelings. I can stand with you even if I don’t have the experiences to be at the same place as you are. I’ve never been scared that I was going to be shot by a police officer. But I have been asked to step out of my car when a police officer had his gun drawn and pointed directly at me, but that’s a story for another time. My experiences led me to trust that the officer would understand I wasn’t the one he was after. Had I been black my experience might have led me to a different conclusion. I’ll never know because I am not black. So let’s stop telling black people how to feel unless we’ve been there ourselves.
Yet, I do think we can work on the way we think. And I think that’s the real issue with what’s going on in our country this week. So let me help you think through some things that I have been thinking through in light of all that’s happened this week. And whether we are black or white, whether we think all cops are great or all cops are evil, whether we think the system is rigged or completely fair, we all can benefit from thinking the issues through before we react.
Justice is not completely blind in America. It never has been. There have always been privileged individuals and classes and races of people in our country. We still have a long way to go to provide equal justice for all. My family members who are poor and white don’t get the same representation as someone who is rich and white, or rich and black for that matter. If you “know” the right people, you can sometimes get things done that you couldn’t otherwise. But, this country is better than most on the matter of civil rights and working toward the ideal of justice for all. At least we have the ideal before us and the freedom to protest when we feel that we are not getting treated justly.
While certainly not the cause of the unrest, the unfettered access to social media is like a hand grenade in a dynamite factory. It has the capacity to make things explode quickly! We rush to judgment before the facts of the matter are even known based on what we see on our feeds and apps. The news reports are quick to post the videos not wanting to be scooped by the other sources. Sometimes our rushed judgments are correct in the end, but other times there is more to the story than we see at first. Some people are happy that the rush to judgment over Hillary Clinton’s email policy was proven at least by the FBI to be much ado about nothing. Yet we are quick to judge every police officer and post our convictions about his or her motive based on a video uploaded from a cell phone. The court of public opinion has never had more sway than in our day and age. If we want justice, let’s let that play out in the due process guaranteed under our way of law. If that doesn’t come out the way it should, then we can protest, then we can work toward changing the system. I don’t know who’s right in the deaths filmed this week. Time will tell. But this much I know, I don’t know all the facts of any of the cases.
It’s a tragedy anytime someone has to or chooses to take another life. It hurts my heart that my friends feel afraid of being stopped by a cop because they are black. It hurts my heart that my friends who are cops feel afraid to do their job for fear of being shot in the process or having to take another person’s life in the line of duty. I’m not choosing sides because I don’t have the courage to do so, but because I think I have to choose both sides. The truth is that all lives matter to me because they matter to my God.
There are many other factors but let me stop for today with this thought. When you remove the foundation for the Declaration of Independence and subsequent governing documents, that all men are created equal and endowed with certain rights by their Creator, you begin to have serious issues as a nation. We have taught our young men and women that they are no different than the animals for years now. We have continually spread the word that there is nothing special in mankind, nothing sacred, nothing of worth and value through the idea that we have evolved. We have not valued every life, only those that are convenient and wanted. We have created a society that does not have a reason to value another life whether it is black or white. We have said that all that matters for a police officer is to come home to his or her family because the only life that matters to him or her is their own. We have reared generations that continues to become more self-concerned and self-absorbed through the years, including my own.
The church has allowed our message to be blocked out because we have refused to stand in the marketplace of ideas and argue our cause on the merits of truth itself. We have undercut the power of the gospel by our refusal to live out the principles of it when it costs us part of the American dream. By failing to demonstrate that Jesus is real in our lives, we have made His claims untrue in the eyes of our neighbors and friends.
There is much talk about love today and will be for a period of time. But love devoid of source of truth is mere sentimentality. And sentiments change over time. We need to teach the truth of God’s word, so that we may truly know what love is. We need to return to teaching our children to value life because every human being is made in the image of God. We need to teach them that their Creator both loves them and has a plan for their lives. We need to emphasize that the “Imagio Dei” found in everyone should cause us to value their life and work toward the best life possible for every human being. We need to teach them that God’s love for them is what led and kept Jesus on the cross as He died as a sacrifice for all our sins and the way back to a right relationship with our Creator God. This shouldn’t start in the White House but in my house and your house. It shouldn’t have to be legislated but lived out. We need to help our children learn the Golden Rule not as a philosophy of life but as a truth to be lived because it was taught by our Creator for our good. We need to re-think the idea that survival of the fittest is the way life is or should be. We are proving that Hosea 8:7 is true, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” We won’t change our world via a Facebook post or even a blog like this. We’ll change our world when we pray and seek God’s face and then love our neighbor as we love ourselves. All of our neighbors regardless of color of skin or profession.