“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last week, we all witnessed the horrific slaughter of five American heroes on the streets of Dallas, TX. When Micah Johnson opened fire on police at a protest on July 7, it became the deadliest day for American police since September 11, 2001.
Yet, in spite of the horror of an “active shooter” environment, witnesses testified to the fact that the heroes of the Dallas police ran toward the gunfire when the shooting started.
In the end, Officers Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Sgt. Michael Smith, and Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens were killed, seven other officers were wounded, as well as two bystanders. Ironically, these policemen were at the protest to protect protestors who were, in essence, protesting THEM.
Now, I want to start off by making a bold statement that some may or may not agree with…
America is NOT a racist nation.
Does some racism exist in our nation? Sadly, yes. However, to call America racist because of the actions of a minority of its citizens is simply wrong… misleading at best. It appears that when you are a politician, calling someone “racist” is far easier than logically explaining your position, or why you may disagree with someone. In my opinion, the misuse of the word “racist” is, in many cases, racist in and of itself. It is a word with significant meaning that is bandied about far too often and far too carelessly.
Statistics speak volumes. Most of what we see in the media, in polls and news stories, is based on statistical information. With that being said, let me share a few stats with you…
There are approximately 765,000 law enforcement officers in the United States who carry “arrest power” (the authority to arrest an individual). All total, there are over 1.1 million people who work in some capacity of law enforcement. An October 2015 article in The Washington Post confirmed the following…
… “Only a small number of the shootings — roughly 5 percent — occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The vast majority of individuals shot and killed by police officers were…armed with guns and killed after attacking police officers or civilians or making other direct threats.”
… “Of the 800 people killed by police this year, almost half have been white, a quarter have been black and one-sixth have been Hispanic.”
Now, statistically speaking, what one can surmise from this article is that…
- Out of 765,000 officers, only 800 (total) have been involved in a fatal confrontation.
- According to this statistic, .1% of police were involved in a shooting the year this article was written (2015).
- Of the 800 people killed, the majority were white, and only a quarter were black.
- Based on these approximations, and assuming that EVERY killing was unjustified (which we are not, except for the purpose of this example), that leaves approximately .03% of all police officers as being involved in the killing of African-Americans.
And please remember, these statistics come from The Washington Post, not what many would consider a “right-wing news outlet”.
Let’s look at another statistic…
According to research done around 1999 by Capitol Hill Blue, an online publication that covers federal politics, after researching public records, newspaper articles, civil court transcripts, and criminal records, CHB uncovered the following:
- 29 members of Congress had been accused of spousal abuse.
- 7 had been arrested for fraud.
- 19 had been accused of writing bad checks.
- 117 had bankrupted at least two businesses.
- 3 had been arrested for assault.
- 71 had credit reports so bad they couldn’t qualify for a credit card.
- 14 had been arrested on drug-related charges.
- 8 had been arrested for shoplifting.
- 21 were current defendants in lawsuits.
- In one year (1998), 84 were stopped for drunk driving, but released after they claimed Congressional immunity.
There are no more than 435 members of Congress, and 100 members of the Senate. So, assuming no person has been guilty of more than one of the charges listed…
- Out of 535 members of the two houses of Congress, 164 have been accused of crimes… 31%.
- In one year, 16% were stopped for drunk driving.
- 5% are accused of spousal abuse.
- 3% were arrested on drug charges.
The point I am making is that, while ANY loss of life is tragic, a little perspective would be in order before we start making reckless generalizations. Saying that police are a bunch of “racist thugs just out to kill blacks” because of a few questionable incidents is as irresponsible as saying that all politicians are “drunks, wife-beaters, and drug addicts” because of the actions of a few. Honestly, statistically speaking, you would have more evidence to support those claims than saying “all cops are racist killers”.
Many in our current leadership are trying to divide our nation along racial, gender, and other socio-economic lines. With the recent shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rogue, people in positions of authority began making accusations of racism before hardly any of the facts were in. Such rhetoric, although common during election years, is not at all constructive, and only succeeds to divide us further. When those in authority speak irresponsibly, it only serves to feed and fuel the misguided passions of those who would use such words as justification for acts of evil and hatred.
We hear the word integration a lot. This word comes from the Latin word integrare which means to make whole. By definition, it takes all parts coming together to comprise a whole. In America, we have always found our strength in our coming together. There is undeniable power in unity. The power of unity is a Scriptural principle…
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus promised that when we come together in unity in His name, He would show up…
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
In spite of the hate and division we have seen, I have seen glimpses that have given me hope for our hurting nation. A popular picture being circulated on social media in recent days depicts a group of African-American men standing in solidarity with, and protecting, the police force on the streets of Baltimore. Images such as these should be plastered all over the news. Yet all too often, the media focuses on every negative story as it relates to the police. When the de facto bias of news outlets becomes one of anti-authority fear-mongering and hatred, it is no wonder that the citizens of our nation become cynical, skeptical, and suspicious of anyone wearing a police uniform. Yes, I will freely admit that there are “bad cops”. There are officers who have made regrettable mistakes that have cost lives. However, I refuse to take what is a vast majority of these brave, dedicated, and sacrificial public servants and lump them into a category of corruption and abuse of power exhibited by a microscopic minority.
Last week, in the aftermath of the death of Alton Sterling, several anti-police protests took place in Baton Rogue. According to reports, these protests were, for the most part, peaceful. It was not until out-of-town agitators arrived that the protests turned violent, with dozens of arrests taking place. We have seen this over and again in places like Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD. But for those who would try to turn a horrible tragedy into an opportunity and excuse for lawlessness, I would echo the warning that the Apostle Paul issued in Romans 13…
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. ~ Romans 13:1-4
So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?
Well, a good starting point would be to take these words of advice, promise, and warning from the prophet Isaiah…
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.”
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. ~ Isaiah 1:16-20
We can choose to make those words of healing, restoration, unity, and life.
We can make those words drip with hatred, division, and death.
The choice is ours… all of ours.