Sssshhh

Some of our biggest problems are solved at the dinner table. At least that’s what President Ronald Reagan once said. Last night as my family and I sat down for dinner, we were completely satisfied with our delicious meal, but we sat there perplexed, saddened, and angered by the police brutality that played out on the national stage in a neighboring town that ended a young man’s life.

I refused to watch the video in its entirety because what I saw from that vantage point and heard courtesy of an amateur videographer just didn’t seem fair. When I watched the news last night, that story was the headliner. What shocked me most was the narrative that followed. It was all about the victim’s criminal past. I turned off the TV. Ssshhh! Too much too soon. Did they just justify taking a man’s life, or did I infer incorrectly? What happened to objectivity?

Something similar happened recently when a young woman’s death was reported on the evening news. She wasn’t murdered. She wasn’t a celebrity or philanthropist. She was an ordinary citizen. Odd, right? Sadly, this troubled young woman was convicted of a crime and served a short sentence for that crime which rocked her small community. What shocked me was the narrative that followed the report of her death. Did they just suggest that death was the punishment for the crime she had committed? Ssshhh! Enough!

We want facts. We want the system to work. We want justice. We want peace. Sometimes, though, we want revenge because our hearts and minds can’t understand what’s going on. Thankfully, we’re reminded of what God wants.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. ~Romans 12:19

I went to bed with Alton Sterling of Louisiana on my mind and woke up to the news of another death by cop in Minnesota –Philando Castile — another family and community in need of our prayers. I’m struggling to find the words to assure mothers, wives, and sisters that their sons, husbands, and brothers will return home unharmed and unfettered. Ssshhh! I can’t make those promises. I wish I could say “Just comply, and you won’t die.” If I said that, it would be a lie. Cell phone footage has proven that that strategy doesn’t work.

The rise in police brutality, racial discord, and media pot stirring aren’t new problems we’re facing in 2016. Marvin Gaye wrote a song about these issues in 1971.  Some of the players are new, but the issues are old — lack of trust, loads of fear, and very little empathy. Until we stop thinking that our problems are black and white, we’ll continue to fight and wonder what’s going on.

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