Let’s be honest.
If #blacklivesmatter is only about cops or primarily about cops we have missed the boat.
And, created a convenient foil which allows us to point a finger and to deflect responsibility.
If we are serious about what we say and that #blacklivesmatter we need to be talking not just about cops and the legal system, but also about why we refuse to adequately fund a struggling education system which fails so many students. And why we allow our mental health system to be decimated to the point where there are so many who are in such obvious need of care living on the street or sub-standard conditions. And why there is a lack of jobs with pay sufficient enough to sustain a household and why wages which, dollar for dollar, are less now than they were 20 years ago. We need to be talking about what is happening, sometimes just below the surface, in our communities, and in our churches and in our synagogues and in our mosques. We need to talk about our own behavior and our own prejudices and who we are as a nation.
This is in no way meant to minimize the tragedy of the deaths which have occurred or to downplay the heartbreak of their families who lost loved ones. Or to say that, if inappropriate actions were taken by law enforcement officers, those who took those actions should not be held responsible.
Are their bad cops?
I am sure there are.
Just as there are bad politicians and bad teachers and bad pastors and bad business leaders. But, I am sure that most of the men and women who wake up each morning and put on their uniforms and go to work, leave their homes wanting to do a good job and to make a difference in the communities they serve. Just as I am sure the very same thing is true for most teachers and most pastors and most business men and women.
Yes they do.
But, if we are serious about this, let’s be honest about what the real picture looks like.
There are systemic issues which play a role in what happened that need to be talked about and changed. And there are personal responsibility issues that play a role in what happened which also need to be addressed. Together they are a gordian knot that will only ever be unraveled if they are unraveled together and if we accept our responsibility and do it together.
During Advent, I have been taking a few moments each day to write a short reflection on a word related to the season. The word for today is Journey. I was in high school when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and I watched as a portion of the city in which I lived went up in flames. We have come a long way since then. And, we have a long way to go. Journey.