As you’ve probably heard by now, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old male from St. Louis, was allegedly killed by a Ferguson County Police Officer shortly after noon this past Saturday. I grew up in North County, about 15 minutes away from where the shooting took place, and know all about the dangers of living in that area.
In this article, I’m going to attempt to answer this question: How can we positively respond to the aftermath of the shooting?
Notice I said “respond.” I didn’t say “react.” Too often, in situations like this, many people simply just react. If we simply just react, we can let feelings and emotions dictate, and end up making poor decisions. But if we think critically, we can respond with the right action that leads to real progress.
Immaturity is making decisions solely on feelings. Maturity is making decisions based off what’s right and wrong. And as I examined the articles and read the Facebook statueses and witnessed the riots on TV, many people are using feelings to determine their actions, slowing down the progress we need, and ironically worsening the matter.
For example, think about the hundreds of people who showed up to “protest.” Some were protesting and were genuinely outraged by injustice, but many were not. In many respects, what was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned into a disaster. Reports show that over a dozen businesses were robbed and destroyed. People started acting like uncontrolled animals. Many people were trying to steal and destroy for personal gain, all-the-while trying to avoid any consequences, thinking that they are entitled to this because someone was shot. As Senator Nasheed has said on Twitter, “Self-destructive behavior is a major setback for real progress.”
The situation was bad. But they made it worse.
Looting is not the answer … But what is? I’m not sure that I have all the answers, but below are 5 I’ve gathered.
1) Let the governing authorities do their jobs. Protests in and of themselves aren’t always bad, but when it turns to a disaster, it becomes a distraction. The FBI, the police, and many other experts are involved. Romans 13:1 tells us they have been placed there by God. If we don’t try to do a Police Officer’s job for a routine speeding ticket, what makes us think we are any more competent to get in the way for a major crisis? We can stop making a dent and start making a difference by sitting back and allowing the authorities to handle the matter.
2) Pray. John Piper says that we shouldn’t do something about all sufferings, but that we should feel something about those sufferings. We can feel the injustice of the matter, and respond in prayer. We can pray for reconciliation, justice, peace, for the churches in the community, and the advancement of the gospel.
3) Serve. How can we serve the city of Ferguson? Can we help clean up the mess (literally) that was made? Are we providing emotional comfort for Michael Brown’s family? Most of us won’t fit in this category, but some of us may consider it.
4) Self-Examination. When I read some of the Facebook posts earlier, I thought, “Man, that person has no idea what they are talking about.” I noticed pride starting to creep into my heart. In situations like this, we can examine ourselves. Am I racist? Am I self-righteous? Am I arrogant? Am I apathetic to evil? A sober self-examination can benefit us all.
5) Trust. Finally, we can trust God. In one of the most humbling and comforting verses in the Bible, we learn that, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Vengeance belongs to God. His wrath is for our comfort. We don’t have to chase people down who cause injustice to hurt them ourselves, but we can trust God, who repays everyone now and in the end how He sees fit.
We can’t control what happened, only our response. And if the five things afermentioned are taken seriously, I believe we can start to see progress in the matter.
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