I have no doubt that you’ve heard a lot about the events of the past week in Charleston, SC and the subsequent debate about the Confederate Battle Flag at the State House in Columbia. The talking heads have yammered on about racist America and the hatred that is flows through every street since the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, FL back in 2012. Since then, the media has used it’s political role of setting the national agenda to bring each shooting and protest onto center stage. This is the first time I’ve gotten involved (publically) in this conversation. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, and it’s not that I don’t see these things as important. But there are a few things I want to point out:
- I don’t feel the need to use the argument that I have black friends. It belittles the entire conversation! We all have black friends. They may or may not be the closest friends we have, and either way it’s fine. Using an argument of “Well, I have friends who are black,” to indicate that we are not racist shows that we aren’t loving our black friends, we’re using them. Same with our friends who are gay or of another nationality/religion/ideology.
- Cops and criminals shooting black people is not okay and neither is shooting white people, or Asian people, or Jews, or Arabs, or Pacific Islanders, or Martians (unless the Martians are trying to become our intergalactic overlords). All lives matter: black, white, Asian, Jew, Arab, Islander, born and unborn.
- We need to have an understanding of one another. Black people in this country have had a rough history. Chattel Slavery in America well predates the existence of the United States itself. It lasted until around 1865 and should be noted that Africans were not the only people bought and sold as slaves. Furthermore, they’ve had lot of persecution since abolition, but it needs to also be understood that many of us who are not black don’t generally see things as racially charged but get exceedingly frustrated when we feel like the progress that we have made as a society are disregarded because of those who want to use race as a political weapon.
- Lastly, there is a post-modern myth that racism in America today stems from conservatives in general and the Republican party in particular. Mind you, that I am a libertarian and a member of the Constitution Party with no particular fondness for most of the GOP, but I find this narrative to be misleading. While the Republicans have controlled the Southern US politically for some time now, the former slave states have been known as the “solid south” because they were solidly Democratic states from the time of reconstruction up until the 1960’s. Truth be told, the KKK and other white supremest groups have Democratic origins to restore the role of whites and to oppress blacks and other ethnic minorities in the south. I bring this up not to defend Republicans or to attack Democrats, but to point out that the narrative of history is more complicated than many of us realize.
So now to the point:
What’s Making Charleston Different from Ferguson & Baltimore?
Have you seen rioting? How about looting? Cop killing? Race bating? No, here’s what we saw after the Charleston massacre:
“You hurt me, and you hurt a lot of people, but may God have mercy on you, and I forgive you.”
“We welcomed you, Wednesday night, into our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people I know. Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. Tywanza was my hero, but as we say in a Bible study, ‘We enjoyed you,’ but may God have mercy on you.”
“I forgive you and my family forgives you, but we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One that matters most: Christ. So that he can change you; change your ways, no matter what happens to you and you will be okay. Do that, and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”
No Justice, No Peace?
There is a concerted effort to divide the American people along political lines, along gender lines, along race lines, along ethnic lines, along economic lines. When a people are divided, they fall easier. God spoke that truth on numerous accounts, and empires throughout history have understood it as well. That’s why the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the like would conquer a land and disperse the population across the Empire. It disenfranchised them and to keep ethnic groups from standing up to them.
After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, people were mad, and justifiably so. After the shootings of Michael Brown and Walter Scott, people were mad and justifiably so. After the death of Eric Garner people were mad and justifiably so. After the death of nine Jesus loving Christians in Charleston people were mad and justifiably so. So what made it different? Jesus. The family and friends of these hate victims expressed more clearly in a day the love of God and the gospel of Jesus than many do in a lifetime. As I followed this story and saw the video my heart broke and I wept. These are our brother and our sisters, and as someone who lived in Columbia, SC for the last five years I could feel the same shockwave that rocked the rest of my state. And now groups like the Black Panthers have moved into town and are calling for the blacks to rise up and kill all of the white people:
This division has to stop if we hope to survive as a nation. It needs to stop if we want to find a road to national healing. It needs to stop if we want to stop the indoctrination of our children to fear and hate. Who cares if I’m black, white, pacific islander, Asian, latino, or anything else. I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and on this earth I am an American, as we all are. Black lives matter. White lives matter. Islander lives matter. Asian lives matter. Jewish lives, Arab lives, Latino Lives, African lives, they all matter. Now stop fighting, and start helping!