We want our politics to fit on a bumper sticker. Stand with Michael Brown. Ferguson Forever. Seek and Destroy ISIS. Hope and Change. Amnesty for Immigrants.
Was officer Darren Wilson actually guilty? Was Michael Brown really an innocent victim? Our brains and hearts cry out for truth. For justice. Something to sink our teeth into that’s clear, reasonable and fair. It’s the way we’re built.
Television’s 24 hour news channels and internet outlets feed on this emotional reality. Fox News caters to those who (warning: stereotyping about to happen) are white and Republican. CNN works the more liberal crowd. If you’re a white Republican and watching Fox News – it’s gonna make sense. A lot of sense. If Michael Brown is such a good kid, then why did he just rob a store? If the black population is so mistreated and downtrodden then why are they rioting and looting liquor stores like crazy people?
Likewise, if you have more of a liberal slant, and/or are a non-caucasian, you watch MSNBC or CNN and it all makes total sense to you. The prosecutor handed an unintelligible pile of papers to the untrained mostly white Grand Jury and then walked away. The white officer, Darren Wilson, had a history of being angry, was recently divorced, and clearly provoked poor young Mr. Brown.
Have you noticed that the world doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker? Unfortunately much of this generation has taken that to mean that “truth” can’t be found. The world is simply shades of grey. Few, if any, absolutes exist. Who can know truth? It’s all so confusing. We can’t sort out big issues like Israel and Palestine, let alone ISIS, so why get involved?
But maturity says – of course we can. It’s true, the world has some shades of grey. But nuances are our friend, not our enemy. ISIS is evil. But we helped create it. ISIS is evil, but the men (and women) who make up that organization were created by and are loved by GOD! ISIS is evil, but evil can be overcome by good. Evil itself cannot be defeated by a bomb.
We need a call to maturity. Children and teenagers tend to see the world in black and white. They are concrete thinkers. They need facts or they get confused. So maybe some of us just haven’t grown up.
You may be surprised how many well meaning Christian folks will say to me things like, “Why are you involved in peace-making in the Middle East? Don’t you know it’s always been that way and will always be that way.” What? Really? It’s “always been that way?” Are you sure about that? Jews and Arabs have always hated each other? Well, actually, no – that’s not true.
Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, made some almost unbelievable comments while being interviewed about Ferguson. He said “we need to focus on the black and black violence” not this kind (of a white man killing a black man). But there are layers of issues that statement doesn’t address. That’s another issue that had nothing to do with this discussion about what happened in Ferguson. Mayor Rudy needs to grow up. He’s immature.
I also find much of the liberal news to be similar ranting gibberish. As if the rioters in Ferguson had no choice. They couldn’t help it. Or that American foreign intervention is the cause of all the trouble around the world. Oh come on – Grow up!
Can we not see truth in various positions? Can’t we look behind the veil of bumper stickers to find honest interpretations of what’s happening in any situation and then make reasonable thoughtful conclusions? Sometimes those conclusions don’t have concrete black or white answers, but they can still be conclusions.
I can easily see some of all positions being true in the Ferguson debacle. Darren Wilson is a good man caught in a bad situation. Michael Brown was a good kid caught on the wrong night. There is oppression of the black community. White cops have ruled. Black rioting is inexcusable. Poverty and injustice are systemic and need to be addressed at the deepest level. The Grand Jury was not rigged.
And God loves them all.
Time to grow up. Be mature. Think carefully as we seek understanding before we try to find the final truth. The world is more complicated than in generations past, largely because we’re fed non-stop information about every even that happens in almost real time.
So we need an understanding heart which is the good ground that Jesus talked about in the parable of the soil. So we pray for understanding hearts. And sometimes that requires nuance!