The internet was ablaze this morning with news and opinions about both Officer Wilson and Michael Brown. It is more than one person can adequately digest. Accusations flying everywhere from news media, religious groups of all stripes, and scores of thoughts being put out there on blogs like this one. So for me to even write anything about this almost seems silly. There are just so many voices out there talking about Ferguson that certainly my words aren’t necessary but so many people are hurting. And I’m one of those bleeding heart kind of people who hurts when people hurt and selfishly writing about it is a release for me. So thanks for listening to my internal monologue therapy.
The feeling that I am hit with as I read all of the information out there is hurt. People across our nation on all sides are hurting in a deep way about what happened and is happening. To say that all of the events in Missouri are just about this one isolated case is simply not true. This case brought the remaining racial tensions in America out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
There are several things I realized as I continued to browse article after article this morning. I realized that I come to these articles with an inherent bias. I am white, upper middle class person of privilege. I don’t see myself that way, but when I step back I have to acknowledge that it is true. I am employed, own a home and regularly am able to eat way more than I should. Although I really have nothing to do with being a part of it, I am a part of the richer half of the world simply by making more than $2 a day.
Furthermore, I am the proud sister of a police officer. Almost exactly a year ago, my brother graduated first in his class from the police academy. He is a great man and officer who risks his life in the service of others. I get to swell with pride as I read reports like the one below about him. He has been bit, spit on, and probably lots of other things I don’t know about performing job duties.
I’d like to give a shout out to Ofc Bryan Cameron for going “above and beyond” to demonstrate what service means to him. On Friday, Oct 24th, officers responded to a call and learned that the victim was a homeless woman who had been abandoned by her male partner and was left stranded in the Town of Orange. Due to the late hour, there weren’t any social or civic organizations that were able to help, so Ofc Cameron put the female and her small dog up in a local hotel, at his own expense. I wouldn’t have known about it except for that his Sergeant made sure that I knew about it. Way to go Bryan!
I realized that when I read article after article I was able to see Officer Wilson as my brother. I see a scared officer under attack who sees lethal force as his only option. I see a testimony that isn’t iron clad because he went through a traumatic event that makes it hard from him to put all the pieces back together. A good man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time simply doing the best he could to protect his community.
However, I quickly realized that it was important to read the news seeing Michael Brown as my brother too. A good kid whose actions were misunderstood. A good kid who was murdered when he was trying to surrender. A good kid whose death was a result of conscious or unconscious racism. A dear family member who won’t be at the table this Thanksgiving.
Humbly I must admit it was harder to read things that way and that’s where I realized there is a problem. I need to see Michael Brown as my brother too. Innocent or guilty, both men are my brothers, sons of the same Father, bearers of the same image of God. Nothing will really change unless we start there, acknowledging our common humanity and the places we have fallen short.
The overwhelmed feeling starts to fade as I remember that my God is still sovereign and loves us all the same. I am an imperfect human but I have a perfect God who took on flesh and personally felt all of this world’s pain. I can’t heal race relations overnight but humbly I can take steps to find and bridge the gaps in my world.
My heart says, “Come, Lord Jesus. Lord, heal our land. There is so much brokenness here and you can make all things new.”