Perhaps you recall freshman English required reading and the marvelous lines, “Double, Double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble!” Shakespeare immortalized the chanted words of the Witches of Endor in his classic play Macbeth. I think this phrase aptly foreshadows the source not only of the Macbeth family dysfunction but also of what’s truly behind our political unrest following the Grand Jury failure to indict the police in either Ferguson Mo. or in Staten Island, NY cases.
People have very strong feelings one way or the other on this issue and I won’t get into the details other than to say that there is very real pain for the grieving families in both these instances. And that in any highly charged situation, logic and reason often fly out the windows when emotion is high. Feelings of anger and frustration are bubbling and no matter what the reality or facts really might hold upon careful, close examination: Perception takes on a higher reality.
Perhaps police policy may need to change in some instances. I would think that policemen could find better use of their time than arresting a fellow for selling cigarettes. Surely, there are other more serious crimes afoot in Gotham that are more deserving of this level of attention. This is not the issue at hand, though. Nor is it the job of police officers to interpret the law or choose which ones they should enforce and which to turn a blind eye.
The ripples of long simmering racial resentment and rebellion have begun to move outward in a disturbing non-linear way. Today in Denver, a large group of high school students were protesting ( school civics fieldtrip?) exercising their free speech. During this peaceful march, four bicycle riding policemen( common in Denver downtown areas) were injured when hit by a car. The teens immediately began to cheer at the accident and to chant, “Hit ’em again!” I don’t know about you, but this is indicative to me of something deeper and darker than racial angst. At this writing, New York protesters have moved into the NYC Macy’s! Mob mentality is never pretty and it rarely leads to anything but an excuse for loss of everyone’s civil liberties.
I find it difficult to relate to the thought processes of the high school kids I referenced in Denver. I was raised to be responsible for my own behavior. I was raised to respect authority and law enforcement officers who have a tough and unsavory job to do. My folks taught me that actions have consequences. Good actions have good consequences and bad actions have bad consequences. It was an important life lesson. Growing up, if I got in trouble at school or elsewhere, I paid the price for it and was punished at home, as well. I was raised to be respectful of myself and of others. I was blessed to be raised by Christian parents who taught me the meaning of honor and loving my neighbors as myself. Just as I learned how to do laundry or roast a chicken; I learned how to treat other people by watching how my parents treated others. I learned how to be a wife and a parent by watching my own. I learned the value of education and study and a good work ethic by watching my parents and grandparents. We weren’t wealthy, or perfect but we were strong. Families are important.
I feel that, at it’s core, the riots and protests we are seeing around the country are emanating from something much more serious than just racial prejudice. Racial bias is certainly real but I believe it is the growing frustration in the face of a societal breakdown and resultant generational poverty. This invades all demographic categories. What we have going on today is world’s away from the protests led by Rev. Martin Luther King and his followers. While it was quite unsettling to the status quo at the time, in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s they sought change through civil unrest and peaceful demonstrations which were fundamentally rooted in Christianity with people raised in a Christian society. It obviously wasn’t perfect,(hence the protesting) but that pervasive influential framework was there.
I am a 58 year old, pasty-white grandmother. What, you may ask, do I know of poverty or racial discrimination? Next to nothing. I do, however, know a lot about sin and rebellion and unchanging human nature. All societal woes can trace their stinky tap roots back to those that grew out of the Garden of Eden!
Knowing our sinful nature and our need of redemption, God gave us a structure and he gave us instruction. His law was given to show us His standard and our need for Him to achieve it.( John 3:16) It also mapped how to operate smoothly in society and our laws in this country grew out of those Judeo-Christian roots. Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not kill etc. and so forth! He gave us a family unit and instructed fathers to teach their children His ways. To meditate daily and depend on the Light of His Word. (Psalms 119:105, Proverbs 22:6, Deut. 11:19)
At the risk of gross oversimplification, we have over time, stepped back from God as a society. We have tossed God’s rule book and decided that marriage is unnecessary and single parent homes are the un- stigmatized norm. In addition to possessing a sense of entitlement which we don’t deserve, we have compounded our problems by passing and upholding laws that make it legal to murder our inconvenient babies and legalized same sex marriage. Nobody is going to tell us what to do! It doesn’t matter one whit what you or I think of these trends. All that matters is what God says. When we rebel against the Word of God then, historically one can track the removal of God’s blessings from that country. When we see the break down of the family then can the breakdown of society be far behind? If you have a single parent household, who is home to teach the children, black, brown, red or white about right or wrong, much less Jesus and how much he loves them? Statistics show that single parent families have a much higher percentage of poverty, a disproportionate likelihood of addiction, prison and much lower odds of higher education and thus future prospects. This generation is being bombarded on every side by violent, pornographic, hateful influences that defy the imagination. With little stability or moral compass, no Godly roots and a bleak future is it any wonder that hopelessness and anger begin to bubble and boil?
Life is cheap in areas like we have seen in the news lately. Ferguson and Staten Island and their like, should be a huge SOS distress flare to the churches to get with the program. If we, as the body of Christ, are doing our jobs correctly, then people will hear that Jesus thinks that their lives are incredibly precious and valuable! Hopelessness disappears along with illegitimacy with the Good News of Christ and the new identity we have as His kids and heirs. The poor are taken care of, marriages are valued, and families are influenced to stay intact, the priorities are in order and Love is filling in the gaps. Read the book of Acts, Christianity is truly an action word.
Lawlessness is one of the signs of the endtimes, by the way! ( Matt 24:12-13) We should not in any way confuse heart issues with racial ones. Chaos and violence, anger, fear and bitterness are all the fruit of Satan and definitely not the kind of fruit we want to be propagating!! Satan likes nothing more than to see racial hatred, rioting and ruined lives. He loves fear and bitterness seething in the streets. He is giddy when chaos reigns.
I began this post with a witches quote from a Shakespearean play. Shakespeare, however, lifted them from the pages of scripture. I think it is interesting to note that the Bible clearly relates Rebellion to the Spirit of Witchcraft.( 1 Sam 15:23, Lev. 19:31,20:6-27)
This side of glory no one is perfect and things may need to be examined and laws or policies changed. However, it needs to happen with respect for the authority of the law: peacefully and in order. We, as Christians, need to be very spiritually discerning in the societal voices by which we are influenced, the character of the folks we vote into office and very purposeful about praying for leadership as well as a heartfelt repentance and revival in our country.