I honestly thought I was done writing on race for a while. Naïve enough to believe that maybe things were getting better. And then like the video clip in the opening of this post from the Godfather, events of the past week pull me back in. Two more shootings. More protest and the racial tension is heightened even further.
“They have the unique ability to listen to one story and understand another.”
― Pandora Poikilos, Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
I found myself watching a segment of the Bill O’Reilly show. As the details of the shooting in Charlotte were being uncovered, Mr. O’Reilly had a civil rights attorney as his guest. They were discussing the events of the shooting. One observation Mr. O’Reilly made was striking. He said, “Well, we have to trust that the police’s information is correct.” That is the heart of the problem with the two views of America. For white America that is your starting point. You believe the police. You have no reason not to. It’s likely most of your encounters with police have been fair and reasonable. That is your reality.
Depending on where you are as a black American that may not be your reality. Your experience with the police may not have turned out so positively, or you may know someone whose experience ended with horrifying results. As a black male, I was taught to be cautious, even afraid of the police. So when a law enforcement officer pulls me over (very rarely has that happened) my heart races, I am on edge not knowing how this whole thing will turn out. I am convinced this uneasiness is felt by both parties, and it is a recipe for disaster. Two people, both on edge, both afraid of each other. One has a deadly weapon, one is defenseless.
I get the sense that so much of what is happening is based on fear. Each side is afraid of the other. What Mr. O’Reilly and his guest were attempting to solve is why? Why are these shootings happening? Why is the community reacting in such a violent and destructive way? Mr. O’Reilly thought if the black community just understood the police were there to protect and serve everything would be ok. The civil rights attorney was pointing out that the black community doesn’t feel protected or served, but victimized by the police. So every new incident only feeds the narrative that black men are being victimized. With that feeling, with that narrative, with the subsequent rioting, the fear on both sides only grows. The gulf becomes larger and the possible racial explosion becomes more evident with each incident.
Only God’s love can tone down the rhetoric. Only God’s love can drive out the fear. We are a nation in need of repentance. We have allowed Satan to create an atmosphere of suspicion and chaos among peoples and nations. Like Hezekiah, we need to come before God and seek his forgiveness and healing. Look at what happened when that occurred in 2 Kings 20:4-5,“And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:“Turn back, and say to Hezekiah, the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David, your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.”
I call on the people of God to bathe this situation in prayer. We need to become a people on our knees praying for God to intervene. God is grieved by what is happening, and if we pray to him, God will heal our land. He will heal our divisions and create a culture of love and trust. Only God can fix what is broken among us.
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