On Ferguson

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from "Loving Your Enemies")”

“The time is always right to do the right thing”

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.”

And, my favorite:

"Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment..."
― Martin Luther King Jr.


I don't know all there is to know about what happened to Mike Brown. I don't know everything there is to know about the legitimate protesters, rioters, looters, and arsonists in Ferguson. I don't know everything there is to know about racial discrimination. I think there are a lot of issues that have culminated over many years and it's complex and messy and hard to make sense of it all.

But, I do have a few thoughts.

I'm sickened by people who think that violence has any place in the Ferguson protests. It has no place. None. It's disgusting and disturbing and is only hurting the very people who claim they want peace and respect, as well as innocent bystanders in their  community. It doesn't matter what your race, gender, or economic status, if you want people to take you seriously you need to take yourself seriously. If you want people to respect you, you need to be a respectable person.

I would love to see all of this converge into meaningful discussions about discrimination. Not just white against black, but discrimination period. There are all types of people who face discrimination and it needs to be addressed and we could all do better.

I'd love to hear real dialogue about justice for all and scapegoats of none.

I think that we should promote personal responsibility. The idea that we are responsible for our conduct. In marriage, in friendship, in the church, and in the community. MLK jr said that his dream was that, one day, his children would not be judged on their skin, but on the content of their character. These days, some, it seems, do not want that at all. They don't want the content of their character judged - they want to point fingers and blame and they want their behaviors to be excused precisely because of the color of their skin or injustices they've incurred, or situations they've been victim of; anything but their character. This is not progress.

I don't think we should condone violence. Our job is not to jump on bandwagons or join in on mob mentality simply because it seems politically correct. We shouldn't throw discernment and good judgement out the door on a whim or because of heightened emotion. We cannot sacrifice one man, despite all evidence and testimony, simply because people are angry and need a scapegoat. We should never advocate skirting proper judicial procedure simply because we didn't get the results we wanted.  Making an example of someone is the stuff of lynch mobs. This is not justice.

I think we need to hold people to high standards because high standards acknowledge that we believe they are capable of attaining those standards. When we make excuses for a person's intolerable behavior, we mistakenly convince ourselves that we are being gracious, understanding, or maybe even more Christ-like, but instead, we are simply patting them on the head like they are a simpleton and telling them they aren't able to do any better, that they have no power to change themselves or their circumstances. This is not hope.

I think it's okay to pick and choose. It's okay to say that we recognize that discrimination exists, but that that is not a driving factor in all black incarcerations and deaths. It's okay to say that police brutality and over militarization is a problem that needs to be addressed, while recognizing that not everyone with a badge is an assassin in uniform. It's okay to say that we support, rally around, and lift in prayer those who are hurting without stripping them of all personal responsibility.

As Christians, we should put Christ first and people second. We should love deeply, act justly, pray fervently, and be watchful. We need to be respectful and discerning. We should dig deep, listen well, and always, always uphold the truth.


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