We are in a very difficult time right now: a pandemic, civil unrest, a financial crisis. Our country was already divided due to religious and political beliefs, and now the highly published George Floyd murder makes civil unrest worse. Given all of this, how do we find solidarity within our nation and communities and reclaim the unity our founding fathers shared as they sought freedom from what they felt was oppressive? As a black man, I was not considered in those founding documents, but I am a citizen now, so the freedom and rights those documents established are mine as much as any other American. They are our shared interest – an interest worth uncomfortable discussion so that we may refocus on a shared vision that benefits us all.
Take the police.
Distrust and abuse in our criminal justice system is nothing new. Things that are going on now have been going on for years. The spirit of policing dates all the way back to the Slave Patrol when churches would designate certain individuals to hunt down run-away slaves on Sundays because their owners would be in church. So, to protect their investment they would police their slaves. If any ran away, they would go after them. It was similar to what we now call Community Patrols. A few decades later, J. Edgar Hoover grossly abused his power toward people of color, and yet much of our country never knew – much less held him accountable. The pattern continued, and a divide grew as the police were seen in two very different lights – one as protection and the other as fear and exploitation. How do we heal this division?
The spirit behind policing is what we need to deal with.
Although I don’t believe that we should paint law enforcement officers with a broad brush, I do believe that we need more accountability and responsibility when it comes to policing. What better motivation for police to act in the interest of citizens than to develop relationships with the residents that live in the community they patrol? Instead of Community Patrols functioning as the eyes and ears for police so that they can turn neighbors over in return for a favor, Police officers themselves should become part of the community. Remove distrust and suspicion by creating sincere relationships.
Relationships work whether we are talking about our immediate communities, the future of police, or getting rid of the devil that fuels divisiveness among our political parties. Christians fighting when we serve the same God breaks my heart. Let’s all reclaim the spirit of solidarity. Let’s all focus on the more important things that bring us together – like love and respect for our fellow human beings. Let’s look at things from a different perspective.
We are in a pandemic, but it’s also an opportunity to slow down and see what really matters in our lives. Focusing on raising children who are morally in tune builds families. Strong families build great communities that look after and love our neighbors. Thriving communities with adequate housing, commerce and transportation will catapult us into a great nation – a nation where skin color is not an issue. A nation where political affiliation is a thing of the past. Let’s elect the best person for the job, not because they are red, blue, black or white.
America is a tapestry woven throughout history. God has put His hand on us for the world to see. So, let’s Reclaim Solidarity.