In this culture now permeated with violence and disregard for human life, it is not enough to say "all lives matter.” It is beyond my comprehension how we arrived at this bloody crossroads. I do not know how we will change the culture. Nevertheless, I do know that something has to change. There has to be change in all of our hearts and minds that perhaps only God can bring. We have to start with change in our families.
We have to be honest. If I were to say this publicly, I would be labeled racist and would perhaps incite just another protest and shooting spree. We have to be honest that there is a reason young black men are incarcerated at a higher rate than other segments of the population. There is a reason police are anxious and likely to make stupid mistakes when they are dealing with young black men. They are justifiably afraid because so often the face disrespect, rage, blame, and violence in those encounters!
Although it may somehow have to do with racism at the root, it is not primarily racism in law enforcement or the judicial system. Police and judges are responding to a culture of unbelievable narcissism, unfathomable antinomianism, and inexcusable violence fostered in many primarily
black communities across our country. Other races are not immune.
There is plenty of inexcusable stupidity across the entire racial, ethnic, and cultural spectrum. However, until all of our families including black families, white families, Hispanic families, rich and poor families, take responsibility for the values they are instilling in their young people nothing can change. No cute slogan like "Black lives matter" (or blue lives, or all lives) will bring transformation. No one is above the law. No one has a right to look down on any of God's children. No one has a right to illegally carry a weapon, let alone use it against another human being. No one has a right to take a life or the property of anyone else. (I kind of think God carved that in stone once... actually twice!) No matter how they may have treated us, no matter how we may be personally touched by the sting of racism, no matter how privileged we may think we are, or how oppressed we may think we are; there is no excuse, no justification, and there should be no tolerance for violence anywhere in our culture.
It is time to stop blaming police, and the judicial system, and schools, and the ugliness of past racism, and poverty, and unemployment; and start putting the blame squarely where it belongs: the family: black and white families, upper and lower class families; all families. Until families stop blaming others and take responsibility for the children we are raising nothing can change... not even God can protect our children from us.
I apologize for the sermon...all lives matter (even the police officers who were gunned down last night) but the strongest condemnation of anyone who takes up violence as a life style or to solve their problems. Anything short, however, of laying blame squarely where it belongs with the individuals and families (irrespective of race or occupation) is unacceptable and might be better left unsaid.
It is time for us as leaders in our communities to take a stand for truth instead of platitudes, answers instead of political slogans, and love instead of the evil that has crept into our culture and our lives.
Rev. Terry Plotcher is pastor of the Reinbeck United Methodist Church