We hear the cries of “police brutality”.
We are barraged with uneven media coverage and biased commentary.
We see the acts of “civil disobedience” perpetrated in “honor” of people like Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner.
We witness brave first-responders being maligned, attacked, and assaulted for simply doing their jobs.
You get the picture. You’ve seen the stories. But before I go on, let’s put this into perspective…
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 318,857,056 people living in the United States as of 2014.
- According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are approximately 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States.
- According to FBI statistics for 2013, law enforcement made an estimated 11,302,102 arrests (including 480,360 for violent crimes and 1,559,284 for property crimes). The highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,501,043), larceny-theft (estimated at 1,231,580), and driving under the influence (estimated at 1,166,824).
- Some other 2013 statistics from the FBI include:
- An estimated 14,196 murders.
- Approximately 724,149 aggravated assaults.
- An estimated 79,770 reported rapes.
- Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.5 billion in property losses.
- About 699,594 motor vehicles were reported stolen.
I cited these statistics, in part, to call for a little perspective. With over 300 million people in our nation, and almost 1 million law enforcement personnel, while any loss of life is tragic, a response of chaos on the scale we have seen is far out of proportion. Now, before anyone says that these statistics do not justify bad behavior on the part of law enforcement, let me just say that you are exactly right. When those in authority abuse their power, they should be held to account, and dealt with appropriately in a just and fair way. Those individuals deserve the same due-process that every American citizen accused of a crime is afforded by law. But to assume all policemen are bad because of a handful of questionable incidents is unfair to the nearly 1 million officers serving today.
Think about this…
There are approximately 1,696 players in the NFL, with an average salary of $1.9 million (2010-2011). During the off-season of 2013 (February to June), 27 players were arrested for a variety of crimes including child abuse, assault, drug possession, DUI, and murder.
So with a rate of less than 2% of players being arrested for questionable behavior, should we demand a ban on pro football in America? Should there be rioting in the streets because one of America’s favorite pasttimes and institutions has been tainted by “the criminal element”?
In the three high-profile police cases I mentioned, let’s assume (for the sake of argument) there were 20 police officers involved. That is 20 out of 900,000… or .002%.
If 2% of all law enforcement in our nation were “bad”, that would be around 18,000 “crooked” officers.
When it comes to police violence, the rule seems to be “guilty until proven innocent”, with a free-pass given to anyone who wants to riot in the meantime. Honestly, I fail to see what destroying cars, assaulting individuals, looting and burning businesses, and laying waste to American communities has to do with social justice.
Growing up in the South during the ’50’s and ’60’s, I am familiar with the lasting impression and power of peaceful protests. Back then, it was about taking a stand for something other than a sound-bite or false narrative. People peacefully and courageously stood their ground, and didn’t resort to looting and vandalism while hiding behind masks and bandanas. Protesting was about seeing real change come to an unjust social landscape that included legalized racism and segregation. It was about brave men and women standing up in the face of violence with non-violence.
But how can we accomplish this today? How can we stop the kind of violence and chaos we have witnessed in places like Baltimore and Ferguson?
- Parents can start being parents again. By now, most of us have seen the video of Toya Graham, the mother who pulled her son out of a crowd of rioters in Baltimore. While some may criticize her methods, no one can fault her motivation. She did not want her child to end up as another statistic — she wants better for her only son than the life of a street thug and criminal. It’s time for more parents to stop trying to be buddies with their kids and start being the loving voice of wisdom, experience, and (if necessary) correction that their children need. The Bible says…
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
Parents, your children have plenty of friends, but only two parents. As I heard someone say, regarding the riots… “Send the police home, and just put a bunch of angry moms out there on the streets. They’ll get things straightened up!”
- We must have a culture of accountability. While the focus in these incidents is centered on the police — and in some cases justifiably so — we must also demand accountability from media outlets and elected officials. Sensationalizing the news, making offhand comments based on conjecture and hearsay, and pronouncing judgement before all of the facts are in is irresponsible at best, and in most cases, serves to throw gasoline on the fires of racism, hatred, and distrust of police and other authority figures. In the Michael Brown case, many people from elected officials to celebrities to sports teams advanced the “hands up – don’t shoot” narrative, which turned out to be a complete fabrication. In their attempt to be first on the scene, first to report, and first with a “soundbite for the ages”, the apparent attitude of media personalities and publicity hounds flies in the face of the Apostle James who said…
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20
Advancing a false narrative in an age of technology such as we have is beyond irresponsible and dangerous. Those who do such things should be held to account for their actions and words.
- Get back to the Bible. We MUST return to the principles that our country was founded on — the principles and truths of the Word of God. The prevailing thought in many circles today (political circles, for one) is that people can believe what they want to believe, and there are no absolutes. There is little in society today that is as wrong, as dangerous, or as insane as that belief. We cannot pick and choose our morality, or cherry-pick what principles in the Bible are “relevant”, and what ideas are outdated. If the Bible is irrelevant and there are no absolutes, what makes it wrong for a person to walk into a school and start shooting children? If the measure of right and wrong is a person’s personal belief system, then what made it wrong for Hitler to kills 6 million Jews because his “belief” was that the world would be better off without them?
In our nation today, we have laws on the book that state that, if a person kills a pregnant woman, and her unborn baby dies as well, that person can be charged with two murders. Yet, an unborn baby can be killed by the cruel act of abortion, and that is deemed by society as “acceptable’. What kind of “crazy” logic is that?
And more recently, we are seeing the hypocrisy of those trying to advance the LGBT agenda who are attacking Christians for standing up for their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs that same-sex marriage is wrong, and exhibiting rabid intolerance for Christians in the name of “tolerance”.
My friend… God sent Jesus into this world to die for our sins, but we must come to Him on HIS terms; by admitting our need for Him, confessing our sins for what they are, and coming to Him in repentance of our sins, and acceptance of His free gift of salvation. Until we are willing to turn to Him, as individuals and as a nation, we will continue down the slippery slope of narcissistic self-destruction.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14
It’s time for sanity to take its rightful place in the public discourse, for good and honest people to speak the truth in love, stand their ground, and make a difference in all of our communities… red, yellow, black, or white. It’s time to do the right thing, one neighborhood at a time, and show the love of Jesus every step along the way.
It’s time to get God’s perspective, and follow His leading.