Yesterday I joined Lawrence Rodgers, Winston Curry, and Jo El Berean along with several other people from the Westside Church of Christ and we went into Baltimore. There we stood among a group of peaceful protesters just to listen and observe. We wound up talking with a couple of people, just asking them questions… to listen, learn, and pray. Here are several thoughts that I would like to share…
- I want to remind people that you will never truly understand an issue from afar or only by what you hear on news media outlets like CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. If you want to know and understand an issue, you must be willing to walk among the people on the ground level and listen in order to understand. The news media is only interested in the narrative which they want to frame the happenings within.
- Violence will never resolve anything. Those who turn to rioting and looting businesses in response to injustice only create more injustice. As for the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, a strong show of police force dressed in full military gear with assault rifles and batons might neutralize those who violently riot and loot but such force will never resolve the deeper issues that have led to the unrest.
- The only way towards community reconciliation begins with humility on the part of everyone. Then perhaps people can gather together in order to listen to one another, forgive each other and repent of wrong doing as necessary, and turn the page with a new commitment of extending charity to each other as neighbors rather than enemies.
- The present issues facing Baltimore are issues that effect everyone, from Maine to California, from the big city to the small town, in one way or another. Repeating the same old sound-bites, platitudes, and generalized assumptions about people, whether those people happen to be Blacks, the police, etc…, only exasperates the issue and creates further polarization. This happens too often in various social-media outlets. We all have some repentance to do!
- Lastly, I am unapologetically a Christian… a firm believer in Jesus and strive to follow him. That also means that I believe true reconciliation comes only from what God has accomplished in Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus shows us that we all are guilty in some way and yet it is from that cross that he offers us the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation. So as we receive that grace so must we extend that grace by loving others, even our enemies, because we know that even as we were enemies with God, we were loved by God who has reconciled us (cf. Romans 5:10). All that to say that if we want love and peace, maybe it is time that we stop trying to seek that on our own terms and instead receive as God offers it to us in Jesus so that we can share with our neighbors. Wouldn’t that make for a better society?
I originally shared the above on Facebook and share them now on the blog because I believe it is important for people know there is a way toward resolving difficult issues that goes beyond the typical tiresome politics. May it be so in Baltimore as well as every other city and countryside where poverty and injustice seem to prevail!