This post was hard to write, but it has been weighing on my heart and mind for some time now. One of the reasons I have found it hard to write is because writing this means I have to think about the depth of pain that is permeating this country and the world. I would have to look at what this means for family and friends who serve their communities as police officers. I would also have to really explore how my faith informs my response to it all. All good reasons, but hard nonetheless. Finding peace amid the runes is even harder.
This post is not meant to serve as a jump-off point for heated debate or a place to spread rhetoric for one group of people or another. It’s not meant to answer the question of why, or how. However, it is a place where I have chosen to wrestle with the events of these past months in an attempt to find…something. Understanding? Peace? Something…
In an age where the news cycles horrific events 24 hours a day, I periodically, and intentionally, choose not to watch because I know seeing too much devastation can cause more than just sadness for me. It would make me never want to cross the threshold of my home. So, I don’t watch. However, when events such as suicide bombing and massacres seep into my “safe” places, I have no choice but to tune in.
Tuning in for the past 2 months has only shown me repeated images of lifeless bodies scattered in the streets of this country, airports and other public spaces. It has shown bloodshed at the hands of people filled with hate intent on causing as much mayhem as possible.
I have heard hate rhetoric coming through the speakers of my television, laptop, radio, and spilling over into some Christian pulpits on Sunday morning. Conversations surround me filled with varying opinions, half solutions and conspiracy theories.
War of the #s
I have come to believe that within every group of people, whether cultural or professional, there will be a handful that will try to bend the world to their will. This small group of people exist no matter which group they affiliate themselves with. It’s like having a shriveled piece of fruit on a vein of fruit that’s flourishing. When you bite into that rotten fruit, you look at the rest of the fruit and wonder if the rest are rotten as well. The answer is no.
I’m not going to get into the hashtag war that seems to be bringing out the worse in people. In order to support one side, you have to dismiss the other. If you dismiss the other you are closed to the struggles of that group. It’s either this side or that one. Instead of forcing people to choose an either/or approach, it can be both/and.
Serve & protect
I have people I love greatly who are both Black and Blue, and their lives matter. When they are wearing the blue, I am sure their authority is seen as a threat to some. When they are fully in their blackness without the blue, I can only imagine that same authority being seen as a threat to others.
The truth is as African American police officers they don’t have the option of either/or because they swore an oath to serve and protect everyone. They wake up everyday and put their lives on the line because they believe that all people should have the right to live in an environment where they should not have to live and exist in fear.
My brother’s keeper
When my brother first told me he wanted to become a cop I questioned his thinking. Not because I thought he was making a huge mistake, but because I was fearful of what he would face everyday he when he went into work. What I have come to realize is that as a black man in America, he understands the human experience from both sides and is able to use that knowledge whether in uniform or out.It doesn’t make his job safer, but it does dictate how he builds relationships with those he serve, work with and teach.
I’ve heard the stories of what being a cop looks like from him, and friends who are also black & blue, and have seen first hand the aftermath of what they face when I served as a chaplain resident in a trauma 1 hospital. The situations they face on a daily bases are real and life threatening. Yet, they go out every day and perform the job they love, serving with others in blue they have come to call brother. They do it because they believe in the work they are doing and they do it with honor.
I thank God everyday that the stories they tell have never ended with them telling me they took a life. I thank them for having the courage to do something I know I am not built to do. I also thank God they are still here to tell their stories. And, I will continue to cover all of them in prayer as they go out and do the work of keeping us protected.
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
God created. No one thing is separate from the creation of God. God spoke and all things came into existence. I believe that. I also believe that everything God created was done in the image of a perfect love. A love that can’t be explained and can never be broken.
We are extensions of this perfect love, created in the image of the One who created everything. Understanding this is not deep, it’s not unrealistic, and it’s not wishful thinking. It really is that simple. We are an extension of perfect love. We are called to reflect back to God this same love that we embody. Love that is supposed to extend vertically (to God) as well as horizontally (to each other). When the image reflected back to God is filled with blood, hate, devastation and senseless destruction, I believe God weeps. Weeps for us and with us.
Presence of God
When a parent raises a child, they instill characteristics in the child that will, hopefully, carry them into adulthood. The goal is to give to society someone who will improve upon what has already been built. Once the child goes out into the world, the hand of the parent can only guide, but the mind of the child is his own. The choices and decision that child makes is his own. When the decisions are ill advised and bring with it life-changing consequences, that parent’s heart is broken and weeps.
I believe it is this way with God. God is present with us, guiding and instructing but the decision we make are our own. The hope is that we will always choose life (for us and others) and not death. When we do things that bring about destruction, God weeps.
Prayer can change things
In aftermath of all the hate and bloodshed in the country, and globally, I mourn the innocent lives that were senselessly taken. But, as a Christian, I am also called to pray for the whole of humanity, even those who are seen as my enemy. To be a light for those who live in darkness.
When you look at these events from that perspective, you don’t see separation, you see people. Every life that is lost belong to someone. They were someone’s child, parent, sibling, friend, or neighbor. They were God’s creation.
And so, as I pray for the lives that were lost, I pray for the person(s) responsible. I pray for everyone who stand on the front lines rushing into dangerous situations, as well their counterparts who may not see a person in front of them simply because they don’t look as they do. I pray for the families of those who pulled the triggers that resulted in the loss of those lives, as I pray for the families of the victims.
Everyone is touched by tragedy and it effects us all in different ways. Praying for the whole of humanity brings me peace and takes away the separation that can be caused by inexpiable senseless events. It allows my hope to bubble up over my agony and anger, changing how I respond to the world and my neighbor.