They Shouldn’t Have…

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You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that since last August, we’ve continued to be bombarded by images and stories of conflict in America, rife with racial tensions. Most of these situations have involved police and unfortunately, many have ended in death.

Before I go any further, I want to preface by saying a few things:

  • I do not agree with violence. Jesus Himself said if we live by the sword, we will die by the sword (Matt 26:52). Looting and such, as a response to perceived injustice, does not fix the problem or help in any way.
  • I respect our police officers and our judicial system. I would believe most police officers have good intentions. However, no officer is perfect and our system has obvious flaws, but as a believer, I’m called to respect those in governing authority over me (Rom 13).

With all of that said…

One of the reoccurring comments made by us armchair quarterbacks about these situations is that those that are being brutalized are essentially getting what they deserve.

Because they’re doing something wrong.

I can see their point, but I don’t agree with the justification of the violence against them.

The recent event that happened in McKinney, Texas, is truly heartbreaking. And as a dad, my blood began to boil. But as a dad of two children who are Black, my heart broke. The girl was just a teenager, a kid. Yet she was treated like a violent criminal.

Many have offered their opinion surrounding the event with comments like “she shouldn’t have pointed her finger in his face…” “the police officer told her several times to leave…” “she shouldn’t have screamed in his face…”

Where do we draw the line with those shouldn’ts?

As I watched the video and saw the screen shots, it reminded me of what transpired in Selma, Alabama just 50 years ago.

FIFTY YEARS people. Not hundreds. Just 50. We’re not that far removed.

What took place was horrid.

But the brutality was seemingly excused because the “black people shouldn’t have resisted.” “They shouldn’t have tried to march when they were told they couldn’t.”

The marchers were told they shouldn’t do something. So in turn, the violence against them was justified because they were doing something they shouldn’t have done.

See any parallels?

If our fellow Americans hadn’t persisted in Selma, Alabama against the injustice (and just gave in to the “shouldn’t haves”) — WHERE WOULD WE BE?

Probably worse off.

It’s easy to write history off and say “oh, that was then–but this is now.”

Is it? Have we really come any further along than where we were then? When the odds are fifty percent higher for an unarmed black man to be killed by police than his white human equivalent, I’m not so sure we have come that far.

It’s easy to justify brutality by saying “they shouldn’t have _____”, but when your people have experienced centuries of oppression, how do you know you’re still not being oppressed?

I believe our desire to be right has trumped the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. And our “right” to speak our opinion has overrun the opportunity we have to simply listen to people.

Can we just put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for a moment? Is that too much to ask?

That requires humility and patience and compassion. Things that, as a believer, should be exuding from my life.

There is a solution to all of this. But we will never get there as long as we refuse to listen by always offering an excuse of “well, they shouldn’t have_____”.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me be a piece of Jesus rock on which inertia and injustice, hatred and hopelessness, may trip and fall.” – Leonard Sweet