In North America, truth is positional. It depends on where you sit or stand or live. It matters if you are up or down, socially mobile, up and coming, all dressed up. Because if not, then “Get your hands up where I can see them!” Because if not, then your number is up. “I don’t want to hear another word! Time is up!”
Because if you are face down on the ground, no one will believe anything you say.
“You are a liar! You are guilty! You are a liar! You can breathe! You are a liar! I’m not hurting you! You are a liar! I’m not killing you! You are a liar! You deserve to die right here, right now and just like this!”
No matter who you have been or who you could be, you are and will always be who you were at your worst or weakest moment. Cue the mugshots.
But if you hold the highest office in the land, it matters not how many lies you have told, even if they have been recorded, recounted by witness after witness and reported on. We will count them and correlate them to pieces of bubble gum placed in jars. We will fact check and correct them. After we are done with our presentation, you will still be given the benefit of the doubt.
In fact, it will take more than a few hundred lies before persons will label it a lie or call you a liar. Instead, they will choose other words. You misspoke or were simply misunderstood. We will be asked to consider the context.
It will be explained and debated. Persons will come out and make statements on your behalf. We will be told what you meant to say. It will be written about and analyzed. Your lies will be the stuff of commentary. It will go down in history.
But Daniel Prude died in police custody. He is handcuffed and because he was spitting a mesh bag or “a spit hood” was placed over his head. Prude is seen on video trying to get up but he is then pushed back down, his head forced down to the pavement for two minutes. He is suffocating. He died seven days later. This time, the city is Rochester, New York.
Since the video has been released by Prude’s family, some five months later, the seven police officers involved have been suspended by the mayor, Lovely Warren. Prude’s brother, Joe, had called the police because his brother was suffering from the effects of PCP. He was partially nude when they found him in the street. Daniel had been hospitalized earlier and been released. His brother called for help and his brother was suffocated in the middle of the street. I wish persons would spend more time analyzing that and not call every instance of police brutality a lie—because they are lying on the ground.
Instead, ask yourself, “How did they get there? And what am I doing to lift them up? Why are they being treated this way? What can I do to make the situation better?”
If you are a Christian and you don’t see why this is important or think that this is none of your business, then consider your position. And if you don’t care to answer the questions because it’s not your problem and you can think of every plausible reason for why victims of police brutality are in this position and therefore, Prude’s death and all the others before and after him are justifiable, then you are a liar.
“You are liar! You don’t love God! You are a liar! You don’t believe that God has no favorites! You are a liar! You don’t believe that God loves those who are experiencing marginalization, oppression and poverty! You are a liar! You don’t believe that we are all God’s children—whether we have a criminal record or an addiction or a weapon in our hands, that we are all siblings!”
Because “those who say, ‘I love God, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (First John 4.20, NRSV). This is the Christian’s position and the gospel truth.