Facebook makes me want to throw up sometimes. I’m not talking about other people’s taste in clothing, or food, or even sports teams. No, I’m considering the bile expounded upon by folks I know – and some I’ll never meet- about the death of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. While one may argue for self-defense in the first, the second is a near replication of Fruitvale Station’s real-life Oakland BART incident. Friends, this is getting ridiculous.
A long time ago, twenty-plus years at least, my mother sat me down and had me watch the PBS miniseries Eyes on the Prize. I remember wondering at first why Mom thought this was so important we’d skip cartoons or playing outside or whatever it was we were giving up. And then she explained how wars had been fought and people had struggled to make our country truly free. And free for everyone. And how the freedom was still being fought for. And how my sister and I should be fighting for the freedom of others.
I was fourteen.
“No man is above the law and no man is below it.”–Teddy Roosevelt
As an adult, I look around my corner of the world and it seems that we have made the law into something that protects those it wants to protect, but even in the case of death at the hands of the said law, justice can’t be had for others. I don’t have an argument for what happened in Ferguson or Queens: but when a person dies, our law (and our conscience, we hope) should beg for a serious investigation. Unfortunately, some are quick to dismiss these deaths as the end result of poor decisions on the part of the dead; I thank God I am not held guilty for my past mistakes. Some want to make this political but it’s not left or right or middle to be a human; when you’re dead, you are no longer registered with your party. You can debate the law (stealing cigarettes, selling them tax-free): I will not debate justice.
So, I find myself this day wondering what the world has come to when anyone can read about the death of a man and use that moment as an anthem for us versus them, or cheer the “way it was deserved”. I find myself wondering how we can understand the past (we don’t) and think that white people aren’t privileged in America (we are) or think that violence in our outrage will somehow make things better (it won’t) or that if the races of these individuals were switched, there would be trials (there would be). Okay, so of the first two I am sure, and of the last, I submit my humble opinion.
Yes, we shouldn’t steal, shouldn’t commit acts of violence, shouldn’t disobey the law. But when we assume justice instead of acting it out (“truth in action,” said Benjamin Disraeli), when we use violence to combat violence (“hate cannot drive out hate,” said MLK), when we sit in silence while others are persecuted (Abraham Lincoln called that cowardice), we fail to be a humanity that was made in the image of God.
I beg you to pray for the world we live in, and pray for our children who will reap what we sow.
I beg you to pray for the fallen on every side, and those who mourn them.
I beg you to pray for those who have taken lives, that God would bring peace to their hearts.
And I beg that you would pray for you and I, whether you agree with my words or not, that God would reshape our hearts and make us compassionate, and pure, and grace-filled.
I beg you to pray for love.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of”–“What The World Needs Now”