In the last week, three deadly police shootings shook our nation. Events in Columbus, Ohio, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, came to us on our screens. Some of us were outraged, while others scrolled past the sight of yet another tragedy.
We believe these tragedies cannot be ignored. We believe that justice, including the examination of our justice system, is not only a pillar of our nation, but a requirement for us as Christians.
Discussions about police violence and systemic racism in our nation frustrate us. Our editorial board struggled with whether or not to discuss it at all. You may feel the same way, wondering about the backlash if you choose to say anything. You may be outraged, boldly posting or speaking about your intolerance for this violence. You may choose to ignore the news, preferring cat videos or celebrity gossip. Unless you’re currently a lawyer, police officer or politician, there’s probably little you can actually do about the problem.
But before you blow us off as yet another voice in the frustrating argument, consider why we must discuss this issue.
First, we cannot accept shootings in the streets as “normal” events. This applies to police shootings, violent protests, and deadly gang violence in Chicago. If you ever seen videos of countries in the Middle East where violence is an everyday occurrence, you’ve probably thought, “Well, at least I don’t live there.” It’s not normal for us to see deadly beatings and shootings when we’re walking down the street. But for some in the black community, this is becoming normal. We cannot accept that.
Second, we cannot accept police violence toward a specific race. No matter the situation, we must examine our justice system. Yes, every situation is different. Yes, police have rights and responsibilities to protect the safety of every citizen. Yes, police face difficult situations daily that we can never imagine and place themselves in harm’s way. But we must continue to evaluate our systems, rather than letting police off the hook. We also cannot let violent protesters off the hook. To do so would be to devalue justice.
When we pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag we say “liberty and justice for all.” Justice, as a pillar of our nation, involves the power of the people to check and balance our authority. Without wading too deep into the social contract theory, we realize that as a people we have chosen to submit to our authorities and they have chosen to serve us.
As Christians, Micah 6:8 tells us to “do justice, to love mercy.” This applies to both our need for a just police system and our duty to respond with mercy, not violence. Black or white, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you have to think about justice. Not to sound like a Core 210 teacher here, but if God calls us to justice, we cannot ignore injustices in our nation.
Our editorial board admits we don’t have all the answers. We can’t tell you what to do about shootings that happened hundreds or thousands of miles from us. However, we can bring this topic to the forefront of your minds and, just for a few moments, honor the lives that were lost. We welcome your ideas and hope you will continue this discussion with your friends, family and classmates.