July 8, 2016 by cbbeard
Yesterday I wrote a pointed post (You might be a racist…) to address a common, yet unacknowledged problem in the United States. Simply put, there is a spirit of indifference that is common among white Christians that must be acknowledged and addressed. That indifference could be a symptom of deeper racist tendencies that have gone unidentified. How we react to troubling events such as the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile killings as well as ongoing systematic brokenness speaks volumes about our hearts.
I could never know that just hours after writing that post, gunfire would erupt in downtown Dallas. Last evening 13 teenagers left my back porch where they had gathered to sit around a fire, chat, and indulge in s’mores and joined me in my living room as we watched the coverage of the horrendous news coming from the north region of their home state. Their boisterous and jovial atmosphere was exchanged for complete silence and shock, only yielding to comments of disbelief and disappointment. We shook our heads and mourned the senseless deaths of those simply doing their job. Together we reflected on the tragedies as a whole and the contradistinction of the Sterling and Castile deaths against the unspeakable deaths of five police officers. One statement resonated with those gathered in my living room: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
Any of the tragedies that have taken place in recent days would be abhorrent if they were isolated incidents, but these calamities will always be connected due to their proximity of occurrence. Accordingly, it is likely that none of these horrific events will receive their due attention, and it is likely that none can be discussed without the mention of another. But as we process these horrors and their implication of society, I pray that two realities remain in the forefront:
The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile do not justify the killing of five Dallas police officers.
Five police officers were killed simply because they were wearing a uniform. This is not justice. Violence does not rectify other violence. Being outraged about the Sterling and Castile killings does not naturally lead to justification of the police killings in Dallas. In fact, I would suggest that if you condemn the killings of Sterling and Castile and do not condemn (or even worse, if you celebrate) the killings of the Dallas police officers, you are exhibiting the hate you have previously condemned. But also…
The killing of five Dallas police officers should not stifle our self-reflection and action towards racial justice.
White Christians, do NOT let yourselves off the hook because hate-filled gunmen targeted white police officers. That murder does not offset the reality that last year 38 unarmed black men were killed by police. That murder does not justify a broken system in which black people are automatically at a disadvantage in this country because of their race. That murder does not allow us to harbor prejudicial attitudes in our hearts, nor does it allow white Christians to stand idly by while injustices continue to occur.
Our world is broken. Sin has set the seeds of hate in our hearts. Do not give in to the temptation to justify or dismiss one tragedy because of another. Do not let your own heart go unchecked. And may we no longer be plagued by prejudice or indifference.
Please, let’s stop killing one another, both literally and in our hearts. Let love prevail.
Photo: Copyright: oneo2 / 123RF Stock Photo