Why, God

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about the death of Philando Castile.  Then I woke up to the news of five police officers shot.  My heart is breaking.

What I kept thinking about:  A month ago, I ran a red light.  There was a tall, very long truck in front of me, which I followed through the intersection.  I couldn’t see the light until I was half-way through the intersection.  Then I realized my mistake and said, “Oh no.  I just ran a red light.”  Then I saw the lights flashing on a police car.  I pulled into a nearby parking lot, hoping the police officer would know I was just concerned for his safety.  I didn’t want to pull over on a narrow busy road and have him standing where he could get hit.  He was kind and respectful as he told me my mistake.  He asked for my driver’s license and registration and I couldn’t find my driver’s license.  I went through all the cards in my wallet.  I finally found it in the front pocket of my purse.

As the police officer went back to his car, the man sitting in the passenger seat of my car, an out-of-town guest, said to me “It’s good you are not black.  You would have been shot for taking so long to find your driver’s license.”  I was quiet, but I was thinking, “You don’t get shot in a routine traffic stop.”  I was crying last night thinking I was wrong.

I ended up with a traffic ticket.  Our four-year-old daughter was also in my car, too, at the time.  My daughter said with innocent faith, “The police are always right, Mom.  Don’t run a red light.”  I kept contrasting her statements with the comments from the dear four-year-old girl in Philando Castile’s car.  Her faith in police officers, if she had any, forever shattered.  I couldn’t stop crying.

Where was Philando’s angel? Where was his protection?  Why did this have to happen?

My heart breaks for Philando’s mother, who raised a man who fed crowds in a school cafeteria and welcomed children.  I know that Mary is in heaven weeping with his mother, weeping bitterly.  I know that the four-year-old had an angel whose eyes were on the face of God. I know that Christ is with the suffering.

I pray for an end to the shedding of innocent blood and I pray for the safety of police officers, too, in this tumultuous time.  May this situation call us all to our highest selves, cause us to choose love over fear, and teach us to cherish the value of human life.

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Update 7/11:  I thought this article is worth sharing as an update to the above initial thoughts and questions.  A Harvard economist took a close look at the data regarding police use of force and police shootings and race.  The numbers painted a much more nuanced picture than I expected.  When it comes to the use of deadly force, there does not appear to be a racial bias against blacks, but when you look at lesser uses of force (generally speaking, the use of physical intimidation) there does appear to be racial bias.  Looking at these numbers, my guess is that these smaller uses of force create real fear as people talk.  Then when a black citizen really is shot by the police, it throws fuel on all those fears in a way that doesn’t happen when a white citizen is shot and killed.  Maybe what needs to be addressed are the smaller displays of police force that might contribute to feelings of fear.  I think it’s helpful that Roland G. Fryer Jr. took time to collect and study all this data.  Numbers always help me put a situation in perspective.  It’s also interesting to read data regarding the likelihood of being pulled over for a traffic offense based on race (especially in the suburbs).  This is a complicated issue.  I continue to pray for healing and understanding and for the perfect love that drives out all fear.

As I reflect on the data, my take-away is that what makes it into the headlines does not show the root of the problem;  really, it’s the smaller stuff we never see:  Every time a citizen shows respect it makes a difference; every time a police officer acts in accordance with professional standards it helps; every act of kindness matters.  So I am praying big for millions and millions of small kind acts in the right direction!

8 thoughts on “Why, God

  1. Beautifully said. I keep crying for the man in Louisianan, as well, & the resulting violence against the police. Seven families have lost loved ones for no reason other that Satan twisting peoples hearts & minds with hatred, suspicion, & prejudice. Lord, bring peace & love to us all.

    • There was so much sadness and grief over the past week. That it’s hard to absorb and feel it all. Praying with you for all the families who have lost love ones.

  2. I am just now catching up on my email and I can not thank you enough for this post! I cried thru the next day and am often in tears when I see the news about any of this. I have spent extra time in the Word seeking peace.
    I live in the Orlando area and between the Pulse Club shooting and these it has been a hard month.
    We have a black son in law who we love dearly and he is the father to our three grand babies – one girl and two boys. I cry(crying now) \ every time I think of our grandsons having to face the possibilities. Please can we find some way of getting this fixed?

  3. Thank you for bringing this up. I read several Bible journaling blogs and wondered why no one was mentioning these events. A big part of why I journal in my Bible is to understand, and you have captured exactly what I (& so many others) are struggling with right now.

    • It’s getting difficult to keep up with all the grief. I was nervous posting this because with so much bad news I didn’t understand why this story was the one keeping me up at night. I think maybe because it hit so close to home in terms of my own life experience. God has laid it on my heart to pray over this family and I know he has others praying for each and everyone who has lost loved ones in recent weeks from France to Turkey to the U.S. I never thought I would say this, but I would be grateful for the news to be filled with political chatter again!

  4. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Blogging | Journaling the Bible

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