“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
These powerful words were written by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He knew better than most about solving conflict with peace, standing for justice in love, even in the face of crime and rampant, pervasive injustices.
I think it’s safe to say that our country is grieving this week, this month, this year. We have seen hatred and bloodshed become normative. We have witnessed a massacre like none other in Orlando, targeting the LGBTQ community and killing mostly Hispanics. We have seen an increase in hate crimes against Muslims, gays, black people, and police officers. Most recently, are the shootings from this week in Baton Rouge and St. Paul.
I don’t pretend to have answers. Far from it. And I can’t pretend to speak to the kind of crippling fear I know exists in communities who are afraid of law enforcement—many times for good reason.
I am a white middle class woman. Perhaps to some degree I understand fear and prejudice based on something objective about me: being a woman. I have felt the fear of walking or running alone, especially at night, fear of being hurt or attacked when I can’t defend myself, and bias on what jobs are socially “suitable” for women. Not the same by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still a vulnerability and point of empathy for me.
John Piper wrote about this week’s events just hours ago. He says: “When a victim of injustice has no power, he still has something very precious. He has this transcendent truth: You should not do this to me. This is wrong.”
It was wrong for Philandro Castile in St. Paul to be shot for doing what the police officer told him to do, reach for his ID. It was wrong for Alton Sterling to be forced to the ground and brutally murdered.
It was wrong for police officers in Dallas to be shot because they were white, just as it is wrong to shoot someone in his car because he is black.
Underlying these events we can see the deterioration of our culture’s view of life. All life. I won’t say #AllLivesMatter because that belittles the legitimacy of the movement and their particular plea for justice which bears merit. “Black lives matter, not more than the rest, but more than how society treats them,” said Wheaton College student body president Josh Fort.
But what transcends political movements and changing ideologies is the truth that all men are created equal in the eyes of their creator. Male, female, white, black, young, old, born, unborn. This is what reconciliation looks like.
When we embrace this truth, we understand human dignity. We understand both what crime is and why it’s so morally wrong. And we also understand a significant part of our calling in response to injustice.
Did not the Bible say, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:14-15)? Yes, we are to beseech our leaders for justice. Yes, there is power in the masses showing solidarity.
But Scripture says bless and do not curse. This kind of love in place of revenge and hatred is humanizing. It is loving. It sees everyone, even our enemies, as made in the image of God. What a difficult calling this is. But Jesus loved those who hated Him even as He carried the cross used to kill Him.
This doesn’t mean we take injustice sitting down or that we ignore the cries of our brother. Instead, it means we should proactively seek to make sure these situations don’t even arise. We should figure out how to address police performance so that we forever put an end to the “shoot first, think later” mentality. We should transform cultural narratives that believe in racial profiling. We should empower young people in our communities to have the economic, educational, and vocational opportunities to become writers, thinkers, law enforcement officers and use their positions of power for justice and reconciliation.
In the face of fear this week, there is hope for those who are in Christ. Not the kind of hope that ignores the pain and injustice of our world, but the kind of hope that aches for something else to come. The kind that doesn’t just casually pray “Come, Lord Jesus” but that actually entreats Him to return, to save this world and all its brokenness.
In light of this hope, we should put an end to the culture of revenge, even as we grieve for the lives lost. All of them.
PC: City Pages BLM Rally, Twin Cities