The news stations and news feeds of our media have been flooded with commentaries, perspectives, and emotionally charged images from Ferguson, Missouri. Once again, race has taken the forefront. If true to form, the topic will grow tired and worn out from the different spins taken and eventually it will fade from the news stations.
Until the next time.
Ferguson, Missouri isn’t the first time, either. The Watts Riots or Watts Rebellion in August of 1965 was sparked by an arrest of a young black man who was driving while intoxicated. The situation grew quickly out of control when an exchanged between the officers and the mother of the driver escalated. In the end, a 46 square-mile area would be torn by violence, fire, and other damage. Thirty-four people would die during the six-day long riots.
In 1992 after the acquittal of the police officers accused of brutally beating a black man named Rodney King, another six-day long riot exploded in Los Angeles. This time fifty-three people would die. The arrests and injuries from this riot were over 13,000 in number.
But racially charged events aren’t from just this country. It goes back to Europe where Bosnians and Serbians battled to keep one from committing genocide on the other. Or to Africa where countries like Rwanda, Uganda, and others have seen brutal killings of those who were different from the killers.
Just Google “Genocides in History” and you’ll find brutality all the way back to Genghis Khan. The point is, hatred isn’t new. It may change location, reason, or skin color, but the root of the issue is the heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9. Unless we, as human beings, start looking inside before we blame the outside, things will never change.
In the 1984 Paramount Pictures movie Footloose, Reverend Shaw has a watershed moment at the town library when he addresses his congregants who are burning books they feel are inappropriate. The Reverend tells them, “The problem isn’t in these books, it’s in here” (pointing to his heart). It’s true.
Until we address the root of our issues, our heart and its brokenness, no amount of conjecture or policy changes will bring change. It’s the reality of law versus free will. We must choose to forgive, ask forgiveness, seek understanding, and have compassion toward one another. I’m not preaching tolerance as much as I am praying for healing. Tolerance has become the battle cry of too many, who twist it’s meaning.
We must choose to listen first, understand the hurt and be a part of the healing. It’s the only way for restoration.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says it best, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander and along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”