“Hands up; don’t shoot!” It is the rallying cry of persons whose eyes are on and hearts are with the family of Mr. Michael Brown, Jr. and the people of Ferguson. It is an instruction given to police officers, reminding them of the universal sign of surrender and the appropriate action when it is given. But, their words also remind us that the conversation is only beginning.
Many persons in Ferguson are talking about police brutality and rightly so as the details surrounding Mr. Brown’s death are still being collected. They and others around the nation want to know what led up to the death of an unarmed teenager. How did he die in his own neighborhood at the hands of someone who answers the call to ‘protect and serve?’ Was the amount of force justified if he had no weapon? Is stealing punishable by death? These are all good and necessary questions. Unfortunately, for some, these answers are not coming fast enough.
So, how do we deal with the wound of now? What should we be saying right now while we wait for the truth to come to light? There are at least two sides to every story and while the results of an autopsy requested by the family has been released, telling part of the story according to Mr. Brown’s body (and this is not his full story), we have yet to hear from Officer Darren Wilson. No matter our conclusions or the reputation of American history, we must assume that he, too, is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Everyone involved is hurting and expressing pain over a wound that reminds them of something old (i.e. poor ‘race relations’ involving police officers or persons playing the ‘race card’ in cases involving criminal acts). Playing the blame game never produces a winner; instead, both persons lose. And we have all lost if we sit at this table.
Instead, let us pray together to the God of all of Ferguson, who loves both police officers and protesters, both Officer Darren Wilson and Mr. Michael Brown, Jr. Let’s stop talking about the problem and give our attention to the Solution. Timothy Keller once said that “the question is not ‘What would Jesus do?’ but ‘What has Jesus done?'”
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53.5, NIV).