The unjust death of George Floyd (and many others) has captured the focus of the world. It should. We should be beyond such a tragedy from happening. We aren’t. What is a nation, a people, a person to do?
For some, the answer is peaceful protests. Those are helpful and bring world attention to a problem that needs to be addressed. We are a people of free speech and non-violent protest. That is part of our heritage that we claim as a positive way to change the world.
For some, the answer is violence. I believe acts of violence not only do great harm to our fellow human beings but they actually obscure and delay the very message for social change that is required to be implemented through intentional conversations and policy changes. We become our own worst enemy.
As a pastor, I would invite all with children to have an honest and open conversation in your home about what is happening right now. Your children are watching the acts of violence that are getting lifted up as the “normal response” to injustice in the world. Teach them the need to confront injustice but to do so in a way that balances fundamental respect for their fellow human beings. If we lose that one value, we lose the fight for justice before it even begins. Chaos will carry the day.
There was a young pastor once who raised up “non-violent protest” as the way to move forward – to bring about change in the world. At a certain point in the journey, I think this pastor knew the very violence he abhorred was about to cost him his life. He gave a speech that ended this way:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
The pastor’s name was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
His vision of non-violent resistance changed the world.
In an act of violence, he was shot and killed the next day after that speech.
And yet (as history has shown), his voice was never silenced.
Violence did not win. Injustice did not win. Evil did not win.
We carry forward that profound legacy. Justice will rise. Peace will prevail. Love will conquer. But the body needs to begin healing now so that we can move towards the promised land together.
I too have seen it.
Teach your children – so they can see it too.