I was not surprised by the Ferguson decision. The steps taken seventy two hours before, and even announcing the decision at night (during a Monday night football game no less) told me the powers that be were doing everything they could to mitigate a negative response. Unfortunately that has not occurred. Violence, looting, and lawlessness have returned to the streets of this troubled St. Louis suburb.
When you look at the evidence put forth: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/ferguson-grand-jury-findings/?tid=sm_fb you surely understand the ruling. If events occurred as presented – someone who had physically attacked a police officer on solo-duty, was moving back toward the officer, and the officer feared for his or her life, such a person is likely to be shot. I think this is true no matter one’s race or the setting.
I do believe our law enforcement officers need better non-lethal tools at their disposal. “Set phasers to stun” might sound like science fiction but technologically, it is possible if we should desire it (I am not speaking of literal phasers but of various non-lethal weapons that we have the scientific know how to develop now). But all that is not on the particular officer’s head in this particular setting. It is a societal problem that we have an absolute love affair with guns and send out our law enforcement officers with little recourse than to kill in many settings.
The reaction of many to respond with lawlessness in Ferguson is disheartening. And, so is the reaction of the general public that I have read all over the media this morning. Violence isn’t teaching anyone anything. The rioters are likely torching their own neighborhoods and innocent shop owners who had nothing to do with the ruling. But, in like manner, for many in the general public to treat this as a singular case and the rioting as nothing more than a spoiled and dependent culture in Ferguson is fairly myopic (and shows a willing disregard of history). There are systematic problems that exist across our country that pertain to the criminal justice system and to pretend otherwise, that everyone is treated totally equally under the law, and justice is totally blind in our nation, is to be fairly naive (or uncaring).
Ferguson does not bring out our better angels in any manner or form.
The overwhelming majority on all sides would call themselves Christians. Jesus Christ was the prince of peace. Jesus Christ called for justice. Jesus sat down with people “on the other side” of so many issues in his society. Jesus had compassion for both people in power and people with no power. Christ is with many today.
Let us highlight those working for peace, justice, and the rule of law on all sides of this divisive event. Let us pray for peace. Let us work for justice. Let us stop demonizing people and thinking of “us” versus “them.” Let people stop wearing masks. Let us be a lawful and graceful people.
Let us work for a better America.
Until next time,