I don’t know. I don’t know, but I have to try.
Last night my kids and I joined our nation and the world when we turned the TV at around 8:30 pm Eastern, to hear the verdict from the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri.
And, like many, many across our nation and the world, I went to bed with a sad and heavy heart.
I am a white, 40-something year old female who lives in what could–what should–be considered a privileged segment of society. Yes. That is truth. And, like all of society, regardless of segment, I have many thoughts on the issues that the events in Ferguson have aroused. Oh, so many. But, I am not in Ferguson. I don’t know Officer Wilson; I didn’t know Michael Brown. I haven’t read the court documents–what I know has come only from the fallible media. I have friends of many different ethnicities-that doesn’t mean I am qualified to weigh in on anything. At all. And I’m entirely sure that the virtual world does not need my thoughts tossed out there on Twitter, Facebook, or even in a blog post. Such as this one.
Yes, I realize and appreciate the irony. I say that, and yet I’m still sitting here, typing away.
Who does need to know my thoughts? And who needs a safe place in which they can express their thoughts?
You see, since the shooting death of Michael Brown on Saturday, August 9th, my four kids have been watching. We’ve honestly not talked about it much–until last night. We should have been talking about it more. We have talked about it some, though. They’ve come home and shared with me what they’ve learned on Channel One. They’ve spoken about different discussions they’ve had with their friends and in their classes. Not often, but some.
But last night, as the images unfolded on TV, all that “some” talk escalated into “here and now” talk. And I watched and listened while my crew tried to process the things they were seeing and hearing from the Prosecutor’s announcement of the decision not to indict Officer Wilson, to President Obama’s speech, to the scenes of looting and violence in Ferguson and more peaceful protests in Oakland, LA, NYC and other arenas.
They watched, they processed, they asked questions. They formed ideas, tried them out, expressed opinions, thoughts, feelings. They debated each other. They needed to talk this through and to listen to each other. And, they needed to hear from me.
In those moments of watching and listening to my four kids, I once again felt that familiar, enormous weight of responsibility. They are definitely individuals. Strong individuals, at that. Independent. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are still, for the most part, children. And, for now, I still have a role to play in their lives. A role that involves helping them to process senselessness in this fallen world.
They need to know that we can’t even begin to comprehend the grief of parents who have lost a son to a shooting.
They need to know that racism, in any form, from any ethnicity directed toward any other ethnicity, is wrong. It is sin.
They need to know that the issues are much, much more complex than any one person can really wrap their mind around.
While that is true, they need to know that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We have a responsibility as Christ-followers and as humans, to continually work toward hearing those who are hurting. Those who are scarred. Those who have and are suffering.
They need to learn how to listen. To really hear people. To look them in the eye, see them, and hear them.
They need to be aware of, be thankful for, and appreciate the lives that are put on the line each and every day for our protection, be that police, firefighters, EMTs, and our military.
They need to hear of the incredible good acts of kindness and service that people are capable of–such as the Public Library in Ferguson which chose to stay open today and to provide positive activities for the children of the community even though the area schools and other organizations made the decision to close today.
They need to know that, as United States Citizens, they have the Right to Freedom of Assembly, Right to Freedom of Association, and Right to Freedom of Speech. People fought and died for their rights.
However, those rights are not cart blanche. At all. In the least. Civility and respect of persons and property are never dissolved. Responsible and peaceful protest when warranted, yes. Mayhem and crime? No.Looting and burning of property is never ok. Ever. There was nothing right about the store owner in this video standing in the midst of his looted business.
As Christ-followers, our citizenship lies first in God. His standards trump all. That means love, not hate. For all people. All people.
They need to know that everyone has a worldview, even if they don’t think about it using that term. They need to be aware of it and work to make sure that their worldview lines up with scripture.
Seeking an informed education is important. Facts are important. but Ed Stetzer addressed the importance of getting underneath the “skin” of facts, in this article posted at Christianity Today. I plan to share this article with my kids. He made this poignant reminder to the community of faith:
“Please do not be one of those people who ignore the hurt. You would not do that in your interpersonal relationships, so don’t do that in our national conversation.
The point is not to ignore or devalue facts in a specific instance, but to recognize that, in all relationships, there are other issues to also consider.”
This is, in no way, an exhaustive list. It is just a start. It is so inadequate. But, it is a start.
I’m a mom, trying to put context around the events of the last few months for my kids. I know that I do so imperfectly. So imperfectly. But I must try. I want my kids to feel deeply–to grieve, even, over these tragic and deep-seated issues. Why? Because it is important. This is worth grieving about.
Maranatha–Come Jesus. We long for your return. We long for the day that Philippians 2:9-11 is reality. And, while we wait–oh, God, it is hard to wait–but while we wait for your return, give us the strength, passion, ability and conviction to obey your words in John 13:34: