Ahhhhh….I woke up from a restful sleep this morning and said to my husband, “It’s amazing what we take for granted, until we don’t have it for a couple of days.” I was, of course, referring to a good night’s sleep. And, I must say, it was lovely.
But then I did my usual routine of checking Facebook, email, and messages to find that once again there was an officer-involved shooting in St. Louis last night, and once again, it was racially charged.
I take living in a peaceful community for granted. I am very insulated at the moment. When I was in college, way back in the 80s, we called it ‘the Concordia bubble’. It’s nice and shiny in here, guys. I have mentioned, ad nauseum, the river, the deer, blah, blah, blah. We live in virtual peace with God and man inside this little bubble. When we drive down to little Gallup Park, we walk alongside people of a variety of backgrounds all smiling and nodding at one another. We pick up our messes and leave the park how we found it. It’s eerily Eutopian. When I go out for lunches, all the ladies play nice, smile, laugh, share… I don’t really experience conflict.
Yeah, it’s weird.
I mean just three months ago, I was living in the heart of pre-Ferguson St. Louis. I won’t say I experienced conflict at all. Actually I lived in my racially mixed neighborhood in relative peace. We exchanged pleasantries with neighbors, moved among people from countless backgrounds, and had very few bumps of any kind. But the tension was there to be sure. It runs like an electrical current under all of St. Louis. It would be naive to say that I was unaware. Centuries of history have bred mistrust and anger among the people in St. Louis and the electricity is tangible.
It was just a matter of time before a spark ignited the explosive emotions that people can barely keep in check. And I have to believe that that is the reason that Ferguson is not over and forgotten. Everyone there knows that the divide between blacks and whites exists. And now that the current of suspicion and hatred has been exposed, the citizens want to make sure it stays in the open. I mean, seriously, grown adults are making public statements at Cardinals games — hurtful statements in a nation-wide arena where the whole country will see. “Notice us, America, we are hurting over here and we don’t know what to do about it!” (That was their statements after being passed through the Rathje decoder.)
And how is anyone, inside or outside of St. Louis, supposed to see the actual truth when years of emotion are clouding the issues? And the emotions are valid! I am not able, from this distance, inside this skin, to tell you what is happening, who is right, who is wrong, but I am able to tell you that these people are hurting. And they have been for a very long time.
Humans were not created to be at odds with one another. We are all children of God. We are all sitting in the palm of His hand. He alone knows the absolute truth of who did what, what were their motives, who should be held accountable. I would love to say that the courts will sort it all out. But the courts are made up of humans and the courts in St. Louis are made up of hurting St. Louis humans. It’s gonna be difficult for anyone to get a fair and impartial trial at a time like this.
And really, is one trial going to solve the hurts of centuries of conflict? Would one hundred trials solve the hurts? a thousand?
After all, no one, really, is innocent. We all have sinned. We all fall short of the glory of God. But, He has promised…”If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
It’s the only remedy that exists. And in order for it to work, everyone will have to put down their weapons and trust in something larger than themselves. Then conversations can start and healing can begin.
be still, there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy is unfailing
His arms are a fortress for the weak.
Let faith arise…