I could write a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t write anything on the turmoil we have seen in Minnesota and around the nation since the death of George Floyd, but the reality is that whatever the list would look like, it would be summed up with the line, “I’m afraid.” It’s a scary situation that holds a lot of emotions for a lot of people.
Being in a rural, and overwhelmingly white, community makes it an even more complicated conversation. But for a decade I lived and did ministry in the Twin Cities. I lived a block from where fires and looting have been taking place. I have stood in the places where I saw protesters clash with law enforcement. I spent a night on a ride-along with a St Paul PD officer. But, even more importantly to me, I have had friends of color that have spelled out personal experiences of racism and fear in their daily lives, including in interactions with law enforcement.
This is all very real for a great many people. So, maybe what I can do is briefly highlight some things that should be clear to all of us.
- George Floyd should not have died like that. There is no defense to that heartbreaking act of evil.
- Our law enforcement is filled with very good people that should be honored and respected, but there are also some very bad people wearing uniforms that need to be identified, called out, and held to a higher standard than they often have been.
- It should have a powerful impact on all of us to realize that there are large groups of people all around the country that are fearful of the very people they should be the least fearful of-the ones responsible to protect them.
- We need to respect and listen to the protesters.
- We need to condemn violence, whether that come in the form of looting and mayhem, or the excessive reactions of some law enforcement officers that have taken place against nonviolent protesters, journalists and aid workers. Again, our law enforcement should be held to a higher standard.
- Christians should be vocally opposed to racism and violence. If we claim to be pro-life, if we claim to be responsible for the “least of these” (Matt 25:40), then we need to take a stand.
This is a complex issue, and there is disagreement on how to move forward. That’s ok. But we do need to move forward, we need to listen, and we need to love. We cannot continue to sit back and complain any time someone takes a knee without trying to understand the “why” behind the protest. If we are more angry about the protest than we are the injustices that sparked it, that is a problem. We need to be able to distinguish between the legitimate protests and the riots that also have taken place. We don’t have to agree with the protest, but we do need to hear the hurt and the fear behind it, and we need to show love and pursue peace and justice.
I have a lot of other thoughts and ideas. Some of them are almost certainly wrong; many of them would likely make some people very upset; some of them are spiritual, some of them are social, some of them are political. I don’t think now is the time for those statements. I think now is the time to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) We need peace and healing, and we need a widespread resolve to make things better together.
Please pray with me for peace, for comfort, for perspective, and for justice. May God guide us forward and bring His kingdom to our world.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?Micah 6:8