I generally try to steer around ‘political’ issues. I have friends with a wide variety of political leanings and opinions. But I could not help myself this week. The conversation, like many table conversations this week, turned to events in the States. At the mention of “Black Lives Matter” someone suggested “Yeah but don’t all lives matter?”
At this point I felt compelled to intervene. I don’t purport to know the folks of “Black Lives Matter” or to blindly support some of their stances yet I perceive at the heart of the issue is the appeal “Stop the killing of young black men!” It seems to me the very height of insensitivity to answer such a plea with a “but”. There can be no “but” because a “but” negates the previous premise. Certainly all lives matter and no killing is justified but the reply “All lives matter” ignores the urgent matter at hand.
A fire truck pulls up to a burning building and begins to pour water on the blaze but the neighbours protest “Why are you paying attention to his house? Don’t all houses matter?” “Of course all houses matter, but this house is on fire! The situation calls for us to use these extraordinary methods on this house.” It isn’t fair all houses aren’t being treated equally, but it is justice.
My father used to reply to my complaints about unfairness, “The last thing you want in life is to be treated like you deserve!” We want and need favour. This is the way God treats us. He does not treat as we deserve or with a methodical sameness. He knows us and treats us with love. This is his nature!
Perpetuating a system that takes the lives of young black men is not loving. Diminishing the issue by chanting “all lives matter” is not loving. A house is on fire and a bucket brigade ought to be forming.
Lest my Canadian friends think this is not our issue, ask young black men in our inner-cities. Or visit a prison in western Canada with a 75% population of Native Canadians. South Africa came to study how Canada developed its Reserve System as they developed Apartheid. Our system is on fire and we need a bucket brigade!
Scripture refers to this ‘evil’ systems as “principalities and powers” and the weapons of our warfare against them are not fleshly. May I suggest that love is our chief weapon? As we seek to respond to these enormous challenges the call to “the bucket brigade” is a call to actively love. The famous quote from “Love Story” is “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The Bible instead calls us to lives of active repentance, turning from carnal responses to those of love. The way is long and the road hard but Paul gives us a glimpse into the future as he writes “love never fail.”