The rage over George Floyd’s death at the hands of local police officers has consumed our national psyche as it revived the demand for racial justice and reformation of our law enforcement system.
It was the recent spark that re-ignited protests, violence, as well as scoffing by some who just don’t get it.
Slogans have gained widespread use to try to summarize the collective mood.
Black Lives Matter.
No Justice, No Peace
I can’t breathe.
Scoffing also abounds.
What about black-on-black violence?
What about the majority of police officers who risk their lives for our safety?
There is no excuse for looting, arson, and violence.
There is, of course, truth in all of these expressions, though none of them alone reveal the whole picture.
Opinions run strong and the perspectives have been politized. Big surprise. What I am going to say now is my perspective. You can disagree or not. It’s just me.
In all honesty what has been happening has sort of rolled off of me. It pains me to say that. I’m white and things are moving along pretty well for me and mine. The Covid pandemic didn’t hurt us much finically. I have no reason to be afraid of the police or fearful for my loved ones who may have an encounter with law enforcement. Other than being an old white guy, who is deemed as pretty much unemployable beyond entry level work, the system is working pretty well for us.
If the system is working well for you, you have a tendency to think it’s okay. If you have been hurt by it, you know things need changing.
I don’t know what it is like to be targeted by law enforcement because of my skin color. I don’t know what it is like to be fearful of the police. I am sorry that I haven’t thought much about those who are.
I don’t know what it is like to still be affected by centuries of painful injustice. My ancestors were never owned or horribly mistreated by another predominate group of people. I am sorry for not thinking very much about those who have been.
My ancestors didn’t know what it was like to have to fight for the right to vote, sit at a lunch counter, use the water fountain, restroom, or sit where they wanted on a bus. I have never experienced that reality, but it was very common in my lifetime. I should feel some of that pain as a fellow human being and someone who loves Jesus, but it really hasn’t fazed me very much. I am sorry.
I don’t know what it like to have my functioning community wrecked by federal programs that groups the poor together in high rises while the middle-class folks move out to the white suburbs. Meanwhile, in the hood, hopelessness, crime, drugs, and family disintegration abound. Everyone does not have an equal advantage. Instead, I think about my own problems, which include none of those. I am sorry.
To the best of knowledge, I have never had someone avoid me because of my skin color. I don’t think anyone ever thought I was a criminal because I was white. I should think about that more. I am sorry.
Jesus charged us with one thing and one thing only. It was not to be proud and arrogant about our faith and the belief that we have things all figured out. It was not to live a comfortable, middle-class life. It was not to partake of a comfortable faith, a proud, exclusive nationalism, or conservative politics. It was not to demand that society espouse our beliefs.
It was to love.
Love includes people. Love doesn’t worry about overdoing the love thing. Love loves when it is not deserved. Love gives people the benefit of the doubt. Love tries to see things from another’s perspective. Love is even for enemies.
I didn’t say it was easy.
We have a lot to sort out. Opportunity after opportunity has been missed. Outrage has not been followed by getting on the solution side of things.
I think it may be different this time. That gives us all hope.