We are all called to live out our baptismal vocation of priest, prophet, and king.
Today we need prophets willing to speak hard truths.
The truth that the overwhelming majority of whites have either explicit or implicit prejudice towards minorities.
The truth that police disproportionately stop, frisk, assault and kill minorities.
The truth that guns are the problem in our society.
The truth that just because you think everyone is equal doesn’t mean you actually act that way.
The truth that many leaders in all political parties promote white supremacist ideologies – whether from hatred or condescending messianism.
The truth that our nation locks up minorities at a disproportionate rate for drug offenses even though whites are more likely to do and sell drugs.
The truth that it’s not all about you and that when someone says you have done or said something racist, it is best to take some time to examine what you did even if it was unintentional.
The truth that our entire culture programs us to see black and brown and think crime.
The truth that police are responsible for their failures.
The truth that police unions and municipalities protect bad police.
The truth that nearly half of police participate in the code of silence to cover up bad policing.
The truth that leadership are the main cause for pressuring officers to participate in the code of silence.
The truth that whites have disenfranchised minorities through housing, schooling, healthcare access, food availability, transportation, and voter exclusion laws.
The truth that minorities are protesting the violence of gangs and taking a stand against violence.
The truth that talking about black on black crime is a subterfuge to avoid, ignore, dismiss and denigrate black and brown voices.
These are hard truths.
As prophets we are called to speak them in the streets regardless of the receptivity of those who hear them.
As prophets we call all people to examine their consciences, repent of the private and social sins of our nation, and seek a new way.
As prophets we offer hope for those who repent and choose the path of truth.
Let us be prophets. Let us speak the truth even if no one listens. Let us be Christ! Come, let us be on our way!
It is time for white people who deny that there is anything wrong with how we police the USA and that all responsibility is on minorities to stop pretending that they know what they are talking about when it comes to racism and abuses of law enforcement. It doesn’t matter if you have 50 years of law enforcement experience, you are either lying about your experience or you are ignorant of what your experience is actually teaching you.
Get off the cop blogosphere and actually study what your fellow officers have taken the time to research.
If you care as much as you claim you will take the time to learn from the experts.
The Bountiful Harvest
Southern trees that bore strange fruit have not gone away
The fight for justice is even more difficult now
though the fruit no longer hangs from a groaning bough
The voices of oppression are more cunning in what they say
The plantation has changed but the massa’s were here to stay
That, pulsing, bloody, strange fruit now rots in the streets tossed there by disdain
Leaving grieving mothers and brothers left to go on living through their immeasurable pain
All with a wink and a nod from those who bring in the harvest proclaiming this concrete garden is A-ok
the fruit that is not cast down is harvested all the same
swept up and shipped to pressure cookers run by evil men out to get paid
the community’s loss is corruption’s gain
processed and pulverized, the fruit is pressed into a most insidious marmalade
millions of bushels locked away
in darkness in barred cellars to rot
how can anyone say this is justice, because justice this is not
some trees were cut down and its wood sold off
to be milled into Batons wielded by police with a wink and a cough
Those seeds from Southern trees did not disappear,
those seeds on southern trees were spread across the land far and near
And those who know it is the nation’s shame
Are trying to say it is the fruit that is to blame
Speak the truth for all to hear, Try as I might and try as I will
For far too many, this place called home is a living hell
The strange fruit may not hang from trees anymore
But it’s blood at the hands of the law is daily being outpoured
~Mark A. Schmidt, 2016~
Americans have never liked studying history, real history. We love mythology. We revel in stories of our genesis as a nation not realizing that, at best, these stories are exaggerations and/or allegorical; at worst, blatant lies and/or intentionally edited to leave out, as Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story”.
We have short term memories and are uncomfortable with the histories that don’t make us feel good or are more complicated than simple dichotomies of good guy vs. bad guy. We make excuses for those who went before us and then we refuse to acknowledge that those unjust actions have any residual consequences on our contemporary society. Or we condemn previous generations and then tell everyone else to “get over it already.”
We need to recognize that things from the past have shaped the present and rarely are the issues of the past fully resolved, they just may no longer be in the news.
It may be shocking to some that in 2015 the United States government was still paying a pension to a living child of a civil war veteran. The civil war ended over 150 years ago amd we are still literally paying for it.
You think Dr. King had a dream and racism disappeared because a few laws were changed?
You think native people have casinos and therefore they are just fine and dandy?
That the USA stole half of Mexico and that the people whose ancestors were living on that land for centuries before it became US territory should “go back home”? They are home. This was their home before my ancestors were here. This was their home before the overwhelming majority of Irish, Italian, German, Scandanavian, Polish, and various other European people had immigrated here.
We “remember the Alamo” but we are told a myth. The truth is Santa Anna’s army was defending the sovereign land of Mexico from an invading army.
We hear people talk about the “founding fathers” and have no clue a out what they are saying. The founders hated Catholics and that fueled their desire for revolution when the Quebec Act was passed.
John Adams signed a law that made it illegal to criticize the government.
Washington ordered an act of genocide during the revolution. Washington also put down a rebellion over taxes with the use of a military force. The Civil War was about slavery – the articles of secession all state clearly they were seceeding to ensure the
future of slavery.
Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright orchestrated the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
We committed war crimes in The Revolution, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and in many other military actions.
This does not mean that we have never done good things in the world. Our very Constitution is an enduring document of law that will, generations from now, still be studied and treated with historical importance for the world as much as the Hamarabi Code.
We have the capacity to do immense good here and around the world but we are hindered by our childish insolence when it comes to doing our collective homework on the history of our nation and the world.
All of the trials we face today did not just pop up out of nowhere, they were planted and cultivated years ago and the harvest has finally ripened. If we want to know what we should do going forward we must dig deeper in understanding what is going on today by learning about how we got where we are.
We often forget that we need a savior. Lured by our modern culture to think that we are our own creators, we forget that we are held in the palm of another’s hand. We are imperfect, we are flawed, broken, frail, ignorant, and selfish. We are embarrassed by all of these things. Admitting our frailties to others, even to ourselves, is painful. Like an injured dog we seek to hide from our soul’s injuries in dark corners, biting anyone who comes near, even those who offer a healing hand. We refuse to accept the truth, we close our eyes to the light, we turn inward in our sins.
Because of this, God sent us a Savior. He lowered Himself to bring us closer. He came to us, not as a conqueror at the head of an army; but as an innocent, tender, defenseless child. It may be easy to turn away from Jesus and his teachings if we only ever knew him as a man. In John’s Gospel we know this to be the case:
John 6: 60-70
“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Many of the disciples left the man, Christ, when his teachings seemed to them too hard to follow. What if they knew him as a babe? What if they had received him in his infancy? Held him in their arms, fed him at table, changed his diapers, protected him from wolves? Would they be so quick to cast him aside in his adulthood? Would they not be more readily willing to listen to his words, no matter how hard they are to hear? Is the care for a child not hard? Isn’t the responsibility of raising and protecting an infant a great challenge? Let us prepare ourselves to receive the child Christ into our lives so that we may know him for completely. When Christ comes to us will our hearts be closed to him as the inn was closed to his parents? Or will he find a warm and welcoming place? If we know him and care for him as a child, it shall show us what we are capable of doing when we face even greater challenges in listening to the man, Christ, our Savior.
May God bless you this Christmas, these coming holy days, and may you welcome him into your hearts. Care for the child, listen to the man.
God’s Peace be with you!