Monday, August 10, 2015

One year later it is the same story . . .

One year ago Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.  For many this was the event that began a year of headlines that told of violence between police and young black men.  

The anniversary was looking hopeful - there was a peaceful march over the weekend but then things got out of hand Sunday night when a 20 year old man opened fire on a police cruiser.  Police returned fire and then chased the young man on foot until he reengaged the police in gun fire.  He was shot multiple times and is in critical condition.  A full account can be followed here.  

It is so sad that we are a year later and this is what happens.

Everyone has a take on the larger issue of racial tensions - some blame police and some blame angry young men who are involved in crime.  Both have good points.  Sometimes it seems like the police are too quick to the the trigger.  Sometimes it seems like inner city young people are playing games with violence.  

And so it turns into a drama of people on opposite sides of the spectrum - those who think they can fix it with protests and laws and those who think everyone needs to arm themselves to stop the violence.  A friend of mine posted an invitation to join several other religious leaders in New York City marching for peace and was met with a series of skeptical questions about solving this problem with activism.  I think deep down we all share the cynicism of waving a flag to solve a problem.

And yet arming up only kills more people.  You can't shoot at this kind of problem.

I think the Bible is pretty clear that we are dealing with sin and until we take care of the sin situation there will be no peace.  When I say sin, I mean the gut-level selfishness that makes us destroy others as well as the system we construct as a culture that continues to produce oppressive conditions for those who have less.  In other words I mean we are all responsible for making sure that we aren't being jerks to each other on a personal level ("do unto others . . .") but also we need to make sure we aren't content with a system or society that seems to breed conditions of ignorance and violence.  We get to the point where we turn off the news helpless about what we can do about it.

When Cain killed Abel and God asked him about it, Cain shrugged his shoulders and asked, "am I my brother's keeper?"  That is the essence of sin - not so much that Cain just murdered his brother but that he was so detached from it that he could coldly push aside a question from God.

So I am not saying that I have the answer . . . but I think I have a good start.  It is to care for those that you can.  Does God's question still apply to us?  Can we be our brother's keeper?  Perhaps this is a suitable challenge for today . . . by the end of the day make contact with that kid, friend or sibling that you have drifted from.  That person that you know is troubled and needs someone in their life.  Call or text them to set something up so you can build the relationship up again.  If we all did  this there would be fewer Fergusons.  Perhaps this is the best way to honor Mike Brown.  If he had someone in his life checking in on him, we wouldn't have to observe the anniversary of his death.  

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