After months of sheltering in place and taking precautions to protect ourselves from a dangerous and potentially fatal virus, we find our nation dealing with the fallout of another infection.
This lingering illness has reared its ugly head to remind us we have neither enacted a cure, nor found a vaccine that prevents the hideous sickness of racial injustice.
For definition’s purposes, the term racism isn’t about whether we can have a conversation with a brown-skinned person. It isn’t even so much about avoiding the use of racial epithets.
It’s about the systemic oppression that downplays the importance and the rights of people who differ from us as God’s children only in the pigmentation of their skin.
It’s easy for us in comfortable America to watch the nightly broadcasts of unrest, panning the violence and destruction that has cropped up on top of demonstrations calling for justice. In a way that’s correct. Violence and destruction have no place in calling for fairness and rights for everyone. They only cloud the issue.
But, we aren’t necessarily seeing the true picture of what’s at stake, of what’s at the root of the suffereing.
We seldom see pictures of the peaceful protests, people marching to call our attention to the greater need....people praying for God to help change our collective hearts to the injustices that still exist nearly 60 years after Civil Rights laws declared that brown-skinned people are indeed entitled to the same rights and privileges as their white counterparts.
It’s easy to miss the point. It’s easy to turn our ear away from the cries of, “How long must we endure this oppression. Where is our justice?”
Most of us don’t see that the word justice has even greater signficance outside of its legalistic implications.
Justice is best defined as the condition of being just, righteousness, equitable-ness or moral rightness.
Justice is about fairness and a commitment to morally appropriate treatment for each and every one of God’s children—no exceptions.
If you need more enlightenment, ask yourself this question. Would George Floyd have received the same treatment from the Minneapolis police officer that mercilessly snuffed out his life if his skin were white? Or ask yourself—How would you feel if, instead of George Floyd being suffocated to death, the person murdered at the hands of another human being were your son? Your daughter? Your brother? Your Father?
When principles that shaped our founding, and solemn pledges we make each day to national symbols aren’t applicable to all Americans in the same fashion, we have missed our intended mark.
A system that could take away life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for not just one soul, but for many George Floyds, needs an even greater reminder of our desire to create liberty and JUSTICE (fairness) for all.
It’s safe to assume that the heroic servants of our nation we honored on Memorial Day didn’t make their sacrifice just for some classes or groups of Americans. They shed their blood for a nation built on the premis that ALL its people are entitled to the rights they fought to preserve.
If we are truly a nation that espouses liberty, isn’t it time that we do a better job of listening to the cries for help who feel short-shrifted?
Nearly 250 years ago, a group rebels and protestors against British rule were bold enough put their very lives on the line for these ideals, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Have we forgotten the lessons of their oppression and desire to be heard?
And, in the throes of giving birth to a new nation, the patriots sought to form, “...a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
If American history isn’t enough of a call to arms for equality and fairness, let’s take it back a couple millennia.
Do we think that Jesus died on the cross just to favor one race, class or culture over another?
After all, like the prophets before, he called for us to lift up the oppressed and free the prisoner. In the greatest sense, he called us to a world of fairness for all, especially those under the yoke of poverty, hunger, and crushing worldly institutions.
If we are a truly a Christian nation, we should not wonder why black Americans march and ask how long they must wait for justice.
We should get down from our lofty and comfortable perches and march with them—peacefully calling for JUSTICE, equality and fairness, just as the prophets in our scriptures repeatedly have called us to....just as our Savior has called us to.
When we pray the words “thy kingdom come here on earth” are we not asking to usher in a world where all God’s children are treated equally, respected equally and yes, loved equally?
The peaceful protestors are using their God-given rights to remind us that, as a country that espouses to be one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, we still have a lot of work to do.
And, it all begins with listening to those who are desperately trying to be heard.
How long do they have to cry out, before we lend them our ears?
In the memorable words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”