Everyone and his brother has chimed in on the events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri. For the most part, I don't know that I have anything to say that hasn't been said. But, that's never stopped me before. I do have family in the neighboring communities, and so I have been keeping tabs pretty closely.
The truth is, we obviously don't know everything that happened that day. The officer involved says one thing. Self-professed witnesses say something else. Surveliance tapes come out showing a new angle. Now a new video shows a background conversation that seems to support the officers account. Autopsy results are released that are interpreted differently by both sides. The final verdict is far from in.
But that's where the problem comes in. We don't know all the facts of the case in question. What we do know is that people have taken to the streets in violent ways, looting stores, throwing fire bombs at police, hurting other innocent people in the process. The question is: how does this help?
Even if the officer is completely off his rocker, decided to shoot the young man on a whim, the worse case scenario if you're the police; but how does rioting help? How does hurting other innocents help? The investigation has only started, so you can't say there is no "justice" yet. We haven't even had time to check all the facts yet. How does blowing up your neighbors business help find that "justice"?
That's the point, isn't it? It doesn't help. But for many, it doesn't matter. This is just an excuse to blow off steam, to engage in stupid, sinful, hurtful behavior and try to feel justified by it. There is no reason behind the riots; protests, maybe; riots; absolutely not.
And what's worse is the church or churches in the area who invite someone like Al Sharpton to come and speak, and call it a "unity rally" when all it does is stir the pot of disunity even more. Shame on them. Do you really think spouting rhetoric that inflames passions is really going to help anything? And if you are really concerned about "injustice" and innocent lives being taken, why are you not rallying/rioting on the streets of cities like Chicago and Detroit where the lives of young men and women are being snuffed out daily by thugs and drug dealers and gang bangers and so on. Where are the protests to support those families? Where is the outcry of injustice in those cases?
My heart goes out to the family of this young man. I can't imagine their pain. I can imagine some of the rest of it. Living on a Sioux Reservation for several years I found out first hand what racism and racial profiling is all about. Folks on the rez didn't like us because we were white and blamed me for what some other group of white folks did to their anscestors a hundred years ago. Meanwhile, white folks in town, off the rez, didn't like me because I lived out there "with those Indians." I had police eye my car suspiciously because it had tribal plates. I also had threats against me and my family simply because we were white. We got it from both sides.
So I do have some minor understanding of the kind of thing going on. But I also know that rioting helps no one. Burning down and stealing is not "justice." It's only sinful men behaving sinfully and trying to rationalize it. I'm in no way trying to defend the officer, or defend the young man who was shot. I don't have enough facts to do either just yet. Neither does anyone else.
I just wish that reasonable people, maybe the true Church even, could stand up and urge peace instead of pointless violence. I wish all the outside influences that have stirred the pot even further would go home and leave the poor folks of Ferguson alone. And I pray that somehow in the midst of this, the redeeming grace of Christ will get ahold of some folks and show them that the biggest injustice of all was when one innocent man died so that we might live. Nothing was ever more unjust. But trust me, I'm not going to protest or riot at all. Because as a result of that injustice, my own sinful heart has found peace in Christ; the only true and lasting peace that can ever be found. I pray the folks in Ferguson will find that peace as well.