Friends, Last week I was out of the country and it seemed as though all hell broke lose in America. I asked my friend Courtney to share her thoughts on this past week here on my blog. Thanks for reading.
It is possible to have deep respect and gratitude for the majority of the American police force, and to weep over the murder of a black man who was pulled over for a broken tail light.
In 2014 alone, there were 781 reported sexual relationships between teachers and students. That means that twice a day, every day, an adult teacher sexually assaulted or raped a child. And not one time have I seen a rant or a rally dedicated to defending the nobility of teachers. You know why? Because we all know that the vast majority of teachers are decent, dedicated humans who work a tiresome, thankless job to ensure the absolute well being of children. My respect of the teaching profession is not shaken by the sickening fact that 781 teachers were destructive, abusive, perverted criminals that year. Therefore, if your child is seduced by a teacher twice her age, I will not feel the need to yell at you that TEACHERS HAVE SUCH A HARD JOB. I’ll just cry with you. And work with you to get the bad ones out of there. Can we just do the same thing here? Can we grieve with mothers who have lost their sons? With babies who have watched their fathers bleed out in front of them? Can we work to get the bad ones out of there? And can we just stop right there?
And before you say “yeah but those black guys were criminals” let me say this. Philando Castile had a license to carry, was trained to use it safely, and told the cop ahead of time that he was armed. The police who pinned Alton Sterling to the ground and shot him point-blank in the chest had no idea what his rap sheet looked like. If that’s not good enough for you, take some time to read about our history of the systematic oppression of the African American race – slavery, Jim Crow, the three-fifths compromise, the GI bill (of 67,000 G.I. mortgages, 66,900 were given to whites, and not for lack of trying), redlining, the intentional funneling of crack cocaine into black neighborhoods, the severe underfunding of education in minority areas, the fact that black and brown men serve sentences 20 percent longer for the exact crimes committed by white men, and the fact that, at least in some precincts, police academies use cut-outs of young, black men as target practice. Give me that history, and there’s a good chance I’d have a rap sheet too.
Just last week, a little after midnight, a larger-than-life policeman knocked on our door to make sure we were safe after a string of car break-ins on our street. I went to bed feeling protected and grateful and like he was doing a job I could never do. I haven’t lost an ounce of respect for the good men and women of the police force, just like I haven’t batted an eye to change my view of teachers. So can we just leave it at that, and in the same breath, condemn and remove the bad apples who perpetuate abuse, racial profiling, and murder?
And while we’re at it, Christian – know that we can grieve deeply when 49 men and women in the homosexual community are murdered, and simultaneously hold fast to our beliefs. Find freedom in the fact that compassion with no strings attached does not disappoint the Jesus who hung naked on a cross to reconcile humanity to Himself. Anyone who believes that stepping into the grief and offering comfort to a broken people, gay or otherwise, compromises the strength of your faith, needs to re-read their Bible.
Likewise, we can acknowledge that the world is under the attack of terror being committed by extremists who claim Islam, and simultaneously treat the Muslim community with respect, knowing that 99.9999999 (look up the statistics) percent of Muslims are peaceful and condemn all violence and groups like Isis with the same fury that you and I do.
Because you know, no matter how many times an abortion clinic is bombed by a “Christian”, or Westboro Baptist pickets a funeral with their disgusting signs, or a white guy shoots up a movie theater or an elementary school, or the KKK holds a rally in the name of Jesus, no one is calling for my deportation or forcing my registration into a national database or shooting me when I get pulled over. No one deserves to be judged by the most twisted version of their identities. No one deserves to be feared because of the shade of their skin.
Jesus spent his years here on earth showing respect toward the leadership of his time, including the government and the police. And (not but), in the opening statements of his ministry, He announced that he had been sent to “set at liberty those who are oppressed”. It’s not an either or. Let’s not forget we are all created in His image and likeness. May we humble ourselves enough to listen to the stories of gay people, Christians, Muslims, police officers, black people, military soldiers, and to offer the same kind of respect and love that Jesus did.
Courtney Miller is a full-time wife and mom to two little girls (and another one on the way!). She grew up in Alabama, graduated from Auburn University, and has called Austin home for the last nine years. She spent several years working for campus ministries, non-profits, and most recently TOMS. Courtney has an interest in justice, social and otherwise, and she prays her girls will grow up with a love for Jesus and all human beings.