Ferguson, Missouri. I find it difficult to un-wrap the many layers involved in the current events, together with a large number of similar incidents with striking similarity. It calls to mind the voting rights battles, the employment battles, the killings, and the thousands of frustrating events that have been experienced by the Afro-American community. I only saw the bombed out remains of Memphis, Tennessee following the assignation of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the heels of Mayor Henry Lobe’s refusal to negotiate wages and working conditions with the sanitation workers of his city. The pent up emotions boiled over in places like Detroit, Chicago, Watts, and the like. People have been killed by police and the police have merely gotten a slap on the wrist. Armed with military surplus, it appears as though they are at war with US communities. Calling out more troops sends a frightening message.
The terrible scepter of racial division bubbles up from the cauldron of our society. We wish, we want, we hope that we could live together in peace. I am reminded that the wolf and the lamb lie down together with the lamb inside the wolf. Is that really peace?
In Ferguson, as in many other places, the so called “minorities” are really a majority and the white minority provides the power structure. Heavy handed police have not worked to build community but have instead settled for dominance. Political districts have been so designed as to perpetuate the current power structure, although the Supreme Court of the United States refuses to acknowledge it.
As a society we say we reject oppression. What we really reject is our oppression and we have far less interest in the oppression of others. We stand up for our rights and refuse to stand up for the rights of the oppressed. It sounds great when we insist that all people are created equal while some people seem to be a bit more equal than others.
We have historically stood for the great education of the wealthy, a fair education for the rest, and, for many years, no education for minorities. Our media systematically refuses to portray constructive leadership develop among the underclass and settles for the rabble rousers. Even when the labor movement stood up to abusive management, we retaliated with union busting tactics. We continue to overlook the great disparity of wealth in this country. A token of the poor get into the Ivy League schools and their equivalents.
I heard a very quotable statement in a sermon yesterday. “Does our faith direct our politics – or does our politics direct our faith?” What a nasty question to pose! It made be think of Reinhold Niebuhr, Langdon Gilkey, and a number of others you may not know. I wonder what would happen if we educated people in the sciences and in theology? We might have fewer preachers with anti-science mentalities and fewer scientists that were anti-religion. (Some religious proclamations would lead me to be anti-religious!) A good liberal arts education would help but then we would all have to have another degree in one of the sciences, probably computer science in order to earn a living.
As you can probably tell, I think the core values of this society are suffering from something about as deathly as ebola of the soul. High fever (anger), diarrhea (of the mouth), and it is quite deadly.
Pray for our country that we might come to our senses. Pray for those who have been bruised by our society – and move to bind up those wounds. Pray for the powerful that they might use their power to empower others rather than just growing more power for themselves. Could we once more learn that when my brother or sister is hurting, I, too, am hurting?