Lots of anxiety going on in our country today. It started in March with what turned out to be COVID-19. Most schools, churches, restaurants, hotels, department stores, barber shops, beauty salons, and other establishments were shut down. Many are just now reopening.
World Health Organization reports that more than six million people worldwide have become infected and 370,000 of them have died. In the United States 1.7 million confirmed cases have been reported and more than 100,000 people have died.
Who’s to blame for this pandemic? Lab workers in Wuhan, China? The Chinese Communist regime for withholding warnings? The World Health Organization for not acting more quickly and definitively? The President’s task force? Pharmaceutical companies for not waving a magic wand and coming up with a vaccine? Yesterday? People who laughed at social distancing?
Then, just as light began to appear at the end of that tunnel, another oncoming train appeared. On May 25, George Floyd, an African-American man, was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill and lost his life in a neighborhood south of downtown Minneapolis, Minn.
Mr. Floyd was arrested, handcuffed, and pinned to the ground by police officers. One of them unrelentingly pressed his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Mr. Floyd was unresponsive when paramedics arrived and later was pronounced dead.
There’s little if any doubt that the officer in question is at fault. He has been charged with second degree murder. The other three officers on the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting that murder. Any or all of the four could spend many years in prison.
Community response initially included peaceful protests demanding justice for Mr. Floyd’s death. Along with those pleas for justice, protesters also decried racism, undeniably a sin.
Incredibly, those protests attracted or catalyzed rampant riots in Minneapolis and other cities across the nation. Some rioters appear to have been imported and paid to participate.
Rioters shattered windows, looted stores, vandalized buildings, torched police vehicles, dismantled and emptied ATMs, defaced churches and national monuments with graffiti, and tried to attack the White House, exhibiting violent and vitriolic behavior. At least 40 cities have imposed curfews. National Guard has been activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
Who’s to blame? Racially biased and discriminatory law enforcement officers? Policemen who arrested Mr. Floyd and whose actions led to his death? Rampant racism embedded in our country’s culture? Rioters who burned, robbed, damaged, destroyed, pilfered, and plundered small Mom and Pop establishments along with Big Box stores? Parents of the perpetrators of violence? Municipal, county, state, and national politicians? The U.S. President for insensitive or inflammatory remarks? His critics and opponents who want him defeated? All the above?
Who’s to blame? I’d start with Satan: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Pet. 5:8. What we’re seeing these day is absolutely demonic!
And I’d quickly add mankind’s sinful flesh. In the Old Testament, the Lord said: “… the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Gen. 8:21.
The devil and our sinful, evil flesh, working together, are at the root of both racism and rioting. In this case, the same culprits have resulted in the loss of a man’s life and have turned peaceful protest against racism into stealing, looting, torching, and destroying.
What’s the cure? Spiritual, parental, legal, moral, and behavioral reformation? Yes. But not easily accomplished. Many moving parts.
Two highly respected Black leaders have modeled helpful thoughts about responding to the sin of racism in a peaceful, non-violent manner:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was described this way: “Never burned one building. Never robbed one store. Never destroyed one town. Changed the world.”
And Dr. Ben Carson said: “We, the American people, are not each other’s enemies. The enemies are those people behind the curtain jerking everybody’s chains and trying to divide us up by age, by race, by income. Peaceful protests of unfair practices are good and are part of what makes America a strong nation. But senseless destructive violence must be recognized and resisted.”
Additionally, a heretofore unknown man named Rodney Floyd, George Floyd’s own brother, said: “I’m asking for peace the same way my brother would ask if he could see the situation, if he was here. Peace. Peaceful protests. It is the best option we have to bring justice.”
I obviously concur with Holy Scripture and couldn’t agree more strongly with these three men.
Lord, have mercy and help us live in peace in this troubled world, regardless of who’s to blame.