There seems to be a gulf between those who feel the hurt of the recent trends in our society and those who attempt to explain the hurt away. This gulf continues to grow wider as each side digs their heels in the sands of contempt and point fingers of blame at the other. Therefore, we must erect a bridge of solutions to the problems that have been diagnosed in our society. Together, we must build a bridge that will mobilize a movement that invites all humankind from all ethnic, economic and social backgrounds to stand for justice. Together, we must build a bridge that advances the gains we have inherited from the foot soldiers of previous generations. Together, we must erect a bridge of progress so that our movement is archived in history for its social message rather than social madness. We must build a bridge paved with respect for all human life and love for all humankind, so that the Creator of our manifold humanity will be glorified above all satanic forces that plague our human existence. There are three pillars to support this bridge that can lead us from the struggle of the moment to the social satisfaction we anticipate in the future.
Pillar #1 – Assessing Police Training and Tactics
First, I am thankful for the hard work and service that our law enforcement officials render for us on a daily basis. I honor these citizens’ labor to maintain order within our communities, towns, and cities as they risk their lives daily to serve and to protect their fellowman. However, as the death of Eric Garner recorded in Staten Island has shown us, there are times when the practices of some must be questioned and determined as actions unbecoming of a public safety officer. Police are public servants and the public should be able to voice its displeasure with the erroneous actions of a few “bad” cops without it being perceived as an attack against police as a whole.
In order to police the public effectively one must have the trust of the general public. The public must have confidence in one’s competence of skills and integrity of heart. When a public servant has lost the blessing of the public, it hinders his or her ability to perform their duties. The following are a few practical suggestions to ensure that public confidence in all law enforcement officials is maintained:
I suggest that all law enforcement officers be required to wear a camera above their name badge when addressing the public. While these cameras may be expensive, they are well worth the investment of tax dollars. These cameras will ensure that the officers’ actions are respectful, reasonable and in line with their department’s code of conduct. Furthermore, we will have the actual unfolding of events in real time, instead of a possibly edited version of an officer’s account.
We are all human with our own preferences and associations. This is a reality of our human existence. We develop communities with those who often think like us, behave like us, and even look like us. Subsequently, when we interact with others outside our developed communities with a lack of knowledge, this cross cultural interaction can be fatal. Police officers are expected to serve the community at large; therefore, one should receive cross cultural-training as a part of their initial training to be a police. This training will make the officer more comfortable as he or she interacts with others because they will have a larger knowledge base of the actions and tendencies of others outside their community.
Pillar #2 – Enlisting the Church’s Involvement
The church is God’s voice in the world. When the church speaks, she does so as an ambassador of the King of Kings. In the midst of social unrest, the church should stand and herald with a loud and clear voice, “Thus says the Lord!” As the world becomes more pluralistic and the standards of right and wrong are shifting in society like a northeast wind, the church must remind society of God’s standard, God’s perspective, and God’s demands. When the church is silent on issues plaguing the world, we are saying two things: (1) God doesn’t care about this and (2) The gospel of Jesus Christ has no bearing on these things. Brothers and sisters, both of these are completely, totally and irrevocably false!!! God does care and the gospel does come to bear on all things pertaining to man. The question is not whether God cares or not. The question is does the church, God’s people, care to share God’s message on these things. The church cannot be so heavenly minded that she fails to be of any earthly good. Martin Luther King said, “Our life begins to end the day we are silent about the things that matter.” Today, I suggest the church begin to lose it relevance when it becomes silent about the things that matter. Robert Smith said, “We don’t socialize the gospel but we gospelize the social.”
Pastors must proclaim the gospel in a way that has direct implications and applications to concerns transpiring in the world today. The sermon must challenge the believer individually and the body collectively. The believer’s perspective should not be shaped from pundits on CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, or any other news network. The believer’s views toward the issues of society should be informed by the word of God through individual personal, private devotions and public proclamation of the gospel through a spirit-filled pastor.
Pillar #3 – Challenging Individual Responsibility
Perhaps you are one asking the age old question, “What can I do?” This is a good question and the answer is, “You can make a difference.” Many times we stand by idle waiting on someone else to voice what we feel as well as, initiate what we are thinking. Yet, I say the world is waiting on your voice. We are searching for your creative, cutting edge ideas. Your community needs your compassionate acts. Someone is longing for your embrace. Some child needs your unconditional love and guidance. Some downcast soul needs your words of encouragement. God has equipped you to be the change we are looking for, calling for, wishing for, and hoping for. You are the voice for justice and equality. You can be the catalyst for change in someone’s life, in your community, as well as in our world! You can do it! You can make a difference! Together we can build this bridge of progress…one day at a time!!