Ferguson & New York City: Chaos or Community

The mere mention of the names Michael Brown (Ferguson) and Eric Garner (New York City) are enough to set off “red hot anger” and “raw emotion.”

Both Michael Brown and Eric Garner died tragic deaths at the hands of the respective police offices of the cities in which they lived.

Michael Brown was pursued by Police Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Missouri police for stealing cigarillos from a convenient store.  Eric Garner died while being restrained by several New York Police Officers as one of the officers applied a fatal “choke hold” on him.

The reaction of the American public has been mixed and greatly divided along the lines of race, gender, and social-economic strata.

Many Americans of Caucasian ethnicity believed that the police in the respective cities were simply doing their job.  Conversely, many Americans of color feel differently about the deaths of both men and over their perceptions.

What makes these situations so difficult to address is that there are many different sub-contexts that are being processed by many Americans of different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.

A case in point is that historically from the end of Reconstruction (1877) through the end of the Modern Civil Rights Era (1945 to 1975), many men and women of color – especially in the “Deep South” – feared the local police in the areas in which they lived.  Quite often, the police were men who enforced the legal system of “Jim Crow Segregation.”

The modern Civil Rights Movement which was led by the outstanding leadership of the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. employed the teaching of “Christian Non-Violence” which was inspired by the life and person of JESUS CHRIST and by His teachings on The Sermon On The Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7).

Unfortunately, since 1965, the Black Family in the United States has gone from a state in which 75% of all “black children” were raised by 2 parents to a stark reality in which nearly 73% of all black children live in homes in which there is only 1 parent.

The late scholar and United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned the country in 1965 about the dire trends of the destruction, the disintegration and the destabilization of the “Negro Family.”  Black Male Authority figures have disappeared from many of the poorest families in the Black community.

The Black community is beset, beleaguered, and betwixt by external concerns with Law-Enforcement (racial profiling and occasional acts of police brutality) and with internal issues paralyzing the Black Family (73% of our children with only a single parent).

Unfortunately, the public conversation attending these issues is muddled and too often loaded with bombastic and overblown speech by both liberals and conservatives.

What is one to do?

How do we move forward?

Is there a way to engage in meaningful dialogue with each other without tearing each other apart with harsh words and violent actions?

The answer is a resounding yes.

The Christian Community of Faith – and by extension those who hold to a Judeo-Christian value system – has a unique role to play with regards to ameliorating social unrest.

Historically, Christians have sought to address social injustice by one of three ways in which we shall entitle R cubed or R3 .

(1.) Repentance – the Preaching of the Saving Gospel of JESUS CHRIST (John 3.16);

(2.) Reform – directly challenge the injustice in question.  For example, Christians were in the forefront for the abolition of slavery, obtaining the right of Women to Vote, the temperance movement, the Civil Rights and Pro-Life Movements et cetera

(3.) Revolution – Overthrow the existing societal Political, Economic, and Religious and/or Philosophical structures.

Which combination of R-cubed (R3) should men and women of faith apply to the crises in Ferguson, MO and New York City?

It is imperative that cooler heads prevail in the midst of these tragic situations.

The Word of GOD informs us that the problems that inflame the globe are not political in nature, but spiritual!

Last, but not least, let those of us that name The Name of JESUS CHRIST as LORD and SAVIOUR conduct our lives in a manner that is pleasing unto Him.

Perhaps that prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi might serve to point us in the right direction:

Make me a channel of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love,

Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord,

And where there’s doubt, true faith in You.

 

Make me a channel of your peace,

Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope,

Where there is darkness – only light,

And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

 

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek,

So much to be consoled as to console,

To be understood, as to understand,

To be loved, as to love with all my soul

 

Make me a channel of your peace,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

In giving to all men that we receive,

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.