I have been stewing over what to say since the news of Breonna Taylor’s murder hit wires almost a month ago. The needless loss of any human life profoundly saddens me. That it was at the hands of police during a botched raid incenses me. And that the cops involved are trying to cover their butts, while unsurprising, enrages me. If you don’t know the story, this New York Times article is an excellent summary.
On the heels the Taylor case, while officials in Kentucky scramble to spin their story, came the word of Ahmaud Arbury’s murder at the hands of vigilantes. These men decided to kill this guy because he may have taken a drink of water from a hose at a construction site. And, incidentally, for being Black in a mostly white neighborhood. If you don’t remember, this happened back in February – before the quarantines. Here’s a link to a good summary of the case thus far. It took until May before we heard anything about the attack when a video of the event finally surfaced.
Had the attorney for the Arbery family not done his due diligence, it is likely the world outside Brunswick, GA, would never have known. Had the attorney not done his job, the criminals might never have been charged.
And, now George Floyd. With more deaths and injuries because of violent responses to peaceful protest. And because outside agitators, mostly white from all reporting, promoting violence to derail the cause. I’m angry, and that’s twisting my guts into knots.
I had to take a break there, to pray, breathe, and relax because the focus isn’t me or my feeling about these deaths. The focus is on justice for those unjustly killed. The focus is on changing entrenched systems created to maintain power in the hands of a few. The focus is on disempowering those who value their property over the lives of others.
Let’s be clear. Murdering people is wrong. Killing people because they don’t look or sound like you, that’s bad. Valuing property over the lives of other human beings is just plain evil.
Let me spell it out, plainly, and in the words of one of the most revered and misused books in Western society.
8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.Micah 6:8 The Message (MSG)
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.
17 No murder. [The sixth commandment]Deuteronomy 5:17 The Message (MSG)
The Most Important CommandMatthew 22:36-40 The Message (MSG)
34-36 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
That’s almost enough from the Bible. Yes, it’s more than many of you want, I know. But, let me walk back verses 37-40 in the last passage.
That second most important commandment, ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ If you value property over the lives of others, how do you fulfill that? If you value your pride over their existence, are you in alignment with the words of Christ?
For my part, I’m sorry for my silence. I regret that I struggled to put these words out there. I will struggle to do better.