Whose Lives Matter?

I am heartbroken…and I stand convicted.

I’m heartbroken because, based on past experience with those who have abused their authority, black parents fear that their children are walking targets.

I am equally heartbroken because, based on past experience, law enforcement officers know the uniforms they wear identify them as walking targets in the same communities they are sworn to protect.

heartbleed-378010_960_720The color of their skin may be different, but the color of their blood is the same.

It flows red from their veins.

It puddles scarlet onto pavement.

It stains not only clothes, but the conscience of our nation.

Explanations of the problem differ depending on whom you ask…

The history of our country has been a history of mistreating black men.

Millions of law enforcement officers do their job well every day, caring for the whole community, regardless of race, color, or creed.

Not all blacks are thugs.

Not all whites are racist.

White-on white homicides outpace black-on-black homicides.

Black-on-black homicides outpace white-on-black homicides.

Black men shouldn’t have to fear death during a traffic stop.

Police officers shouldn’t have to fear death during a traffic stop.

Do you see the problem? It’s a game of tit-for-tat.

For every fact one side offers, the other side provides an equally accurate fact. We end up talking at each other instead of to each other. A game of one-upmanship in which we wield truth as a club, even as we turn a deaf ear to other truths that are equally valid.

The vicious cycle escalates until it takes a life for a life for a life for a life. Until no one is left standing and we’re all lying in a pool of intermingled blood—with the red liquid the one thing we have in common aside from death itself.

The first time I heard the phrase, “Black Lives Matter,” my initial response was, “All Lives Matter.” “Blue (police) lives matter.” “Native-American lives matter.” “Asian lives matter.” Why should black lives matter more than anyone else?

It’s true the Black Lives Matter movement has at times been hijacked by those with their own agenda. However, for many law-abiding black Americans, the original intent was never to say their lives matter more than anyone else. The intent was to communicate that black lives matter as much as anyone else. How sad that any group of people would feel the need to say so.

All lives do matter. But if stereotypes allow even the perception that the lives of any group – ethnic or vocational – are diminished in importance, the phrase “All Lives Matter” becomes a lie. Black lives and blue lives must matter equally, no less than all other lives, whether Asian, Native-American, or fill-in-the-blank.

I confess, I’ve felt intimidated and fearful walking alone in a predominantly black community when I see a group of young black men heading toward me.

But young black men are equally afraid if they are walking in a predominantly white community and see an officer heading toward them.

And law enforcement officers are also afraid, knowing that if their firearm is not always at the ready, a split second’s hesitation could leave their wives widows and their children fatherless.

The common denominator is fear. Fear in its darkest, most raw essence. Its insidious presence writhes and grows. It chokes life and suffocates peace. In their place, fear breeds suspicion and hatred. It divides and it kills.

The only antidote I know for fear is love. Perfect love (I John 4:18).

The kind of love Jesus offered on the cross for all lives.

The kind of love His followers profess to have.

The kind of love that needs to be manifested with actions as well as words.

The kind of love black Christians and white Christians and Christians of every other ethnic background need to exhibit to push back the darkness that seeks to cleave and conquer.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

May God give His people – of every ethnic background – the courage to live out His love.

May God give me the courage to live out His love.

Will you join me in this prayer?