More Thoughts on #Ferguson

G. K. Chesterton defined bigotry as “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition” and wrote that “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”

It is not wrong to think that Officer Wilson was justified in killing Michael Brown or that those who looted and rioted were committing criminal acts. I definitely agree with the latter and have no trouble believing the former.

It is wrong, however, to assume the right to tell others how they should think and feel without any attempt to understand how they actually think and feel.

It is wrong to tell the African-American community that they should not mourn the loss of another young black male because he was just a thug, brought his death upon himself, and the real problem is black-on-black violence, especially when you make no effort to express sympathy or empathy–to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

It is wrong to assume that your experience as a middle-class white suburbanite is valid and somehow gives you the insight and ability to immediately assess every situation while telling African-Americans that their experience is not valid.

It is wrong to assume the moral high ground–on either side of the issue–without having any dialogue with someone on the other side. (Chesterton also said that “Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot.”)

It is wrong to shout down people who disagree with you and bully them into taking down their posts.

It is wrong to assume that if they take a position different than yours that they are promoting looting, rioting, and violence against police (seriously, is anyone actually advocating those things?) or that they must be a racist.

It is wrong to think your own race is the only one that views issues of race objectively or correctly.

It is wrong to attack the image of God in another human being–in word, thought, or deed–just because they believe, act, or look differently than you.

We don’t all have to agree on everything, but let’s treat each other with a little compassion (and, for Christians, with gospel grace), and let’s remember that the onus is on each of us–no matter what stance we take on issues like these–to work for the good.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:18, 21)

‪#‎Ferguson‬

Thoughts on #Ferguson

My heart breaks for ‪#‎Ferguson‬ and for America this morning.

My heart breaks over the fact that the the death of an unarmed teenager at the hands of a police officer is accepted as standard operating procedure.

My heart breaks for all the police officers whose lives are endangered and jobs made more difficult by the suspicion and lack of respect that situations like this breed in the community.

My heart breaks for the African-American community whose cries for justice are drowned out by the sounds of looting, vandalism, and rioting by some of their own number.

My heart breaks that so many others could not muster up any sorrow or sympathy when an 18-year-old was lying dead in the street, but are now suddenly filled with righteous indignation over burned cars and businesses.

My heart breaks that after centuries of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws, there are still people voicing the opinion that looting and vandalism is proof that African-Americans deserve to be shot dead by police (and yes, that sentiment has been voiced by some of my Facebook friends).

My heart breaks that we Christians, who claim to worship the Prince of Peace, the One who tears down dividing walls and who loves justice, are often the ones perpetuating and promoting a divide between the races, and that we so often do not even realize we’re doing it.

My heart breaks that I am often content to ignore injustice and go about my life.

My heart breaks that even with the destructive effects of sin on full display, we are so hesitant to preach the gospel, which alone has the power to root out systemic injustice and heal racial tensions.

“Therefore justice is far from us,
And righteousness does not overtake us;
We hope for light, but behold, darkness,
For brightness, but we walk in gloom. …
All of us growl like bears,
And moan sadly like doves;
We hope for justice, but there is none,
For salvation, but it is far from us. …
Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands far away;
For truth has stumbled in the street,
And uprightness cannot enter.
Yes, truth is lacking;
And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.

Now the LORD saw,
And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.”

(Isaiah 59:9, 11, 14-16)