Friday, September 30, 2016
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land. Psalm 37:7-9(NLT)
Recent and increasing outbreaks of violent confrontations that end in death for black persons are more than a cell phone video phenomenon. It is a sign of just how grossly-divided Cain and Abel can get.
Our culture may congratulate itself on granting “rights” to everyone, because we are the land of the free; but if that is so, why the rage? Why is it that the African-American community feels so disenfranchised and powerless…so much so that the push-back turns deadly?
I wish I knew. And I wish I had a pill for fixing that would actually work.
I’m white because that is how I was born, and I grew up in the lower middle class. I’m not a political-science guru, but I watch what happens; I listen and think, long before I get involved. So, I’m an introverted observer who cares that all people be treated fairly, and do have not a clue as to how to make that happen.
But, because I don’t want to be complicit in the perpetuation of racism, for me the idea of saying nothing is hardly an option.
The key is to not say too little or too much, neither too softly nor too loudly; many a well-intentioned word, because of anger or impatience, has turned evil because it was not carefully spoken as the truth in love[ii]. As the Psalmist cautions we must stop our anger and turn from our rage, even in the midst of racial outrageousness we witness on the evening news.
Outrage and anger speak from both sides of the firing line. Black Lives Matter has a strong case against unwarranted brutal treatment at the hands of those charged with the responsibility of protecting people and their rights. Blue Lives Matter correctly defends the innocence of officers acting appropriately in bad situations. Some, on both sides, have touched-off more violence with hasty intemperate words.
It is a flaming mess!
God’s Word cautions us not to take vengeance. [iii] That is God’s purview, and we are not good at it. The Psalmist tells us to trust God to do whatever “punishing” needs doing.
But that still doesn’t speak to what we must do in speaking against the evil of racism which threatens to destroy both those who are targets of racial bias, and those who unwisely give racism an undeserved validity with their rage and violent pushback.
Dr. Martin Luther King was a pacifist without question. If there was to be a protest marking the unfair treatment of people, he was ready to do so without the kind of rage we see boiling-over in our streets today.
Of course Dr. King was human with all the potential for error and sin that each of us possesses – but I believe he got this right. We cannot let rage and anger destroy us…and that’s what it will do if we don’t dial it back!
Take time to get to know someone with whom you disagree; you might find more common ground than you ever imagined!
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[ii] Ephesians 4:15
[iii] Romans 12:19