This is a blog post I really don’t want to write, but I am anyway.
There’s been another non-indictment of a police officer doing something that resulted in the death of a youth. You’ll notice I didn’t mention the skin color of either the police officer or the youth. I did that on purpose. I would guess that the first thing that came to mind may have been Eric Gardner. But really, it could be one of the many other stories that don’t rise to the level of national interest for any number of reasons.
If you are on any of the numerous social media sites, you’ll probably hear all sorts of righteous indignation. You’ll also probably hear all sorts of people defending the officer. Fortunately or unfortunately, these two sides are in two separate worlds and don’t communicate with each other – often seeing the other side as ill-informed, racist, or fitting some other pleasant label that dehumanizes their opponents. The only truth that seems to matter though is that each person take a side on the issue, like it’s some kind of game in which you have your loyalties to.
There are posts and tweets from people saying that the best way to not get shot by a police officer is to not commit a crime. And there are other posts and tweets telling how people got out of a crime because they were white. And there are calls to “fix a broken system.”
Two worlds. They are so far apart that they don’t even know that the other world exists, and that anyone in their right mind would want to be on that world and could possibly have legitimate concerns. That may be a surprising statement for many people to hear. It’s not too surprising though if you spend time in both worlds listening to what people are saying. Both worlds have elements of truth and elements of falsehoods.
That’s because people are involved. Is the system broken? Sure. It always has been. Why? Because people are involved. People are broken. We are a broken people in search of ways to fix the brokenness.
We spend a great deal of time searching for ways to fix the brokenness. We spent a deal of time, money, emotion, and other resources at our disposal to try to fix the brokenness. We look all around us to find “the answer” to the brokenness. We look to politicians, as if they are somehow more special and have some kind of enlightenment that others don’t have. We look to government, forgetting that the people in government are just as broken as we are. We may protest or hold a rally in the street demanding change happen. We may even turn to the church demanding the church do something. We listen to the marketing of businesses selling us crap and telling us that we need this or that product in order to be whole. We have addictions of sex, drugs, TV, internet, exercise, work, and who knows what else – all failed efforts to try to fix the brokenness.
These things fail every time and yet we don’t learn – we just try something else. These things fail because we keep looking outside of ourselves for the answer. We look to other people, other stuff, institutions, etc. Why? Because it’s always easier to point the finger at something outside of ourselves as the solution and the problem. It takes responsibility away from ourselves as being our own problem. It takes responsibility away from looking within to see something there that can actually “fix” the brokenness. It’s really painful to look at one’s own brokenness.
Actually, this isn’t totally true. We can’t fix the brokenness – ever. We aren’t capable of it. We can’t fix ourselves. Given how many ways we have tried, that shouldn’t surprise us. Sounds pretty depressing right?
As a Lutheran Christian, I believe that we both sinner and saint – meaning we are broken and “fixed” at the same time. That’s my spin on it anyway. Augustine of Hippo once wrote something that went like this – I can rest when I find my rest in you. Augustine was talking about God. God is the only thing that can fix us and fill the hole within us.
Want to fix the system? Want people not to get shot? Want to stop wanting? I know of only one thing that works to fulfill these wants. God. And here’s the best part – we usually don’t get what we want either when we listen to God. How is that good news? Because we are broken, you could say we don’t see clearly – we have broken vision. Thankfully, God doesn’t. Things work out not the way we want, but the way they should work out. We don’t get what we want, but we usually get something else – what we need.