Anger feels good. It’s an adrenaline rush. You can aim it at a news story, get all fired up, tweet your friends, spend a few hours with a couple of hundred like-minded folk facing down riot police, good times. There are enough stories that reach the headlines about brutality by cops to give you a chance to get protest on a couple of times a year. Truth, justice and the American Way are totally unnecessary here. You just need a good story that will fire up the troops. I’ll watch the YouTube video of y’all for a bit before flipping back to Jeremy Clarkson and yet another impossibly expensive 200-mph car I’ll never own.
A cop shot a young black man. Let’s slow down before y’all run off to the CNN reporter and make him or her tape your statement that another white racist sumbitch cop shot another innocent, harmless fuzzball young black man and that this proves all cops are at war with every African American and thus, we must be at war with the cops. It will happen again. Another cop will shoot another young black man. It serves no one to make an ultimatum that no white cop can ever shoot another young black man.
There are too many of us. We are 321 million people. So, forever after, no white cop can ever shoot one young black man in a nation of 321 million people. That’s worse odds than winning the lottery. It’ll happen again just by the numbers. If we let the crazies and the journalists rule the day, we’ll be fed a steady diet of young black men taking vengeance on white cops who in turn take vengeance on young black men who iterate and kill another white cop.
Ask any gang member if there has ever been an end to the violence driven by a beef with an opposing gang. Tribes across the world have a running tally of dead members who were killed in yet another bloody battle with a tribe they have a vendetta with. Is this the America we want? An America not ruled by law, but by unrelenting, unforgiving feuds which take the lives of kin and kind?
The premise is messed up. It’s based on a false dichotomy. It’s wrong for a white cop to kill a young black man. Ok. So . . . can a black cop kill a young black man? Can a Latino cop become a serial killer by ruthlessly gunning down every white or black or brown man or woman he encounters until someone shoots back and takes him down? Where does it stop? Of all the pairings of ethnicity involved in murders, are any of them acceptable? Excuse me, but a book I treasure has in it a prohibition against murder and says nothing about exceptions based on kinship, skin color, gang affiliation, or tribal membership. The prohibition is simple, “You shall not murder.” And yes, there are at least a few other blog posts possible around the debate over whether it is shall not kill/shall not murder. Forgive me, but I’m going to run right past that for now.
A young black man will be shot by a white cop sometime in the future. The odds work too well in favor of it. There may not be a clear causal link between that man’s death and the deaths of Michael Brown and so on. Still, and this is the connection to Oresteia and Christ, more rioting, more bloodshed just gets us more. Our way out of this is through the rule of law and through the cross. Justice must be sought for the perpetrators and those injured must forgive so that they can live free of the pain of their loss. Every other way just perpetuates the evil of the first death.
Please, it’s the day after Christmas. We just got done celebrating a holiday in which we are encouraged to step up our humility, charity, and service to others. Let’s not lose the momentum. As we spend the week greeting the new year and as the new year rolls along, let’s not forget our need for compassion, humility, charity and service to others. Then maybe we can get off the radar and stop feeding the hungry maw of the press its sick diet of murder and vengeance.