Not Just Ferguson

It’s not OK.

It’s not OK to burn police cars and buildings.

It’s not OK to riot and retaliate with violence against truly innocent third parties.

It’s not OK to threaten and blame with no consideration for due process and a system of laws.

It’s so not OK that it was obvious that things weren’t OK before now to start with. It’s just as not OK to dismiss the legitimate frustration, pain and anger that was obviously just below the surface. It’s just as not OK to act as if there is nothing wrong regarding an entire segment of our society and that the problem all starts and ends in Ferguson. Maybe the stuff that’s going on right now in Missouri is evidence of a much greater injustice than any perceptions or reality of injustice surrounding Michael Brown.

Anger comes from somewhere, it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s fueled by either hurt or fear so if you want to get rid of anger, you actually have to address the source of the hurt and/or fear. If we look at the angry and unjust reaction to the grand jury determination and think it’s as simple as “don’t be angry,” then we fail to address the source of the anger which is hurt and fear.

Many people would sincerely ask, “what are they afraid of” and even “what is there to be hurt about?” After all, Barak Obama got elected president. “Things are better now, let’s move on,” the rationale would go.

When the hurt and abuse runs back centuries, it isn’t healed by the election of a president. When there are still real-time experiences that create an impression of feeling different based on your race, the generations of stories are fresh and real. When the stories of abuse and rejection come from your mom and dad and grandparents, they burn a deep impression in your soul. They are part of you whether you want them to be or not. If you or I haven’t experienced it, we can’t know what it feels like and determine the intensity of emotion that others should feel.

There is responsibility and opportunity running in all directions this morning. The anger and blame need to stop but they won’t stop quicker at the sound of the majority voice’s anger and blame. It stops with listening and validating while keeping in mind the condition of the hearts that feel the anger. The anger came from somewhere and the somewhere needs to be acknowledged for the anger to ever subside.

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