Racial Tensions: Rochester NY: Justice, Reconciliation & Moving Forward
By Chaplain Ayesha Kreutz
Racial Tensions: Wisdom, Righteousness, Justice, Peace, Virtue Reconciliation and Moving Forward in JOY
These are human beings we are talking about!
Rochester, NY is hurting, NY is hurting, and the nation is hurting and dividing as videos surface of interactions between police and people of color, especially the ones that have led to deaths. We know hurt manifests itself in many ways, and we know when people are hurting, they can easily be taken advantage of and used for nefarious purposes.
As the body of Christ, as families, as a community, we need humility to move forward, or we will find ourselves paralyzed with anger. Our anger will lead to recklessness. In James 1:20, the Word tells us “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.”
Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.” In verse 13, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.’
We can grieve and show grace and mercy, as we too were shown mercy by God, AND then seek justice all at the same time. This should not be an either-or premise. The principalities of evil KNOW that if we are divided, we are easily controlled. There are a lot of places of common ground and unity IS possible.
If the Body of Christ shows up! Letting those who are hurting and do not know the Gospel take the lead can only lead to more chaos. We can get to that but first I want to you to ask yourself a few things.
What about the families, what about the hurting and the dead?
We have to recognize and acknowledge the humanity and personhood of all people. I believe most of us want to strive for justice and are seeking the wisdom to do so.
Men and women in our community have died untimely and tragic deaths at the hands of not only strangers but of people we trust and of those in authority. And those who’ve been abruptly left to the hands of their fellow man, no matter their background, color, criminal history etc., are someone’s loved ones. Communities have the right to grieve, mourn and ask questions.
My hope is that every officer or community member who takes another’s life purposely or unintendedly will, at some point, meet themselves in the mirror. At that time, they will either become repentant or depraved. We need the capacity to extend our mercy to the repentant and pray for God’s mercy on the depraved.
The remedy for our pain is JOY – Put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last
Who are we as a community? What is our role as the body of Christ, as families, as activists and organizations?
As the body of Christ, like it or not, we are held to a higher standard. Sure, “All have sinned,” so we are not perfect, but we are still to show virtue and be “blameless, upright, fearing God and shunning evil.”
Not everyone is Christian, but even those who are not hid in Christ want peace, justice, and reconciliation. However, for those of us who see the world through the eyes of God, true peace, justice, and reconciliation cannot be attained outside of a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Loving God and loving people, all people, is both our duty and our privilege.
We are to be angry and sin not. We are to love our enemies. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We see that every human being, born and unborn, was created in the image and likeness of God and has value and should be treated with dignity. We despise lawlessness and strife, and we seek peace.
We as Christians, activists, and community members is trifold. We are peacemakers, agitators, and mediators. We want what everyone else wants, but the path forward toward equity, unity, and reconciliation for our community is JOY – Put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last
What are our police officers? Who should they be and what do we want them to be?
The ideal police officer and first responder puts people first. Their chosen profession is one of helping and of honor. We expect them to show virtue and have a good moral character.
We hold them to a high standard because mistakes can be deadly. Yet, on this side of heaven, perfection is impossible. So, working within a flawed system, with flawed men and women, takes work. Where we see injustice, we root it out. When we need to extend mercy, we extend mercy. When we have a choice between JOY and anger, we should choose JOY. If we do this, and have this same expectation for our police officers, this results in improved community and police relations, and improved police policies and practices.
We should care about an officer’s wellness for a couple of important reasons. Police officers are trained in self-defense and armed and have the authority to stop you and question you in various circumstances. We should want to dedicate at least some resources to making sure that, throughout their long careers, their health and wellness are intact and that the stress of their job does not diminish their convictions.
Law enforcement officers are just that… there to enforce the law. If we have a problem with the law that is not their place, that is where policy makers, politicians come in. Why dog on the police for them doing what we asked them to do. NOW, if we as communities, as society, as a nation want to change their roles, fine. That is a conversation we can have.
Right now, we are asking them to be law enforcement officers, mental health providers, EMT’s, psychologists and social workers. I am sure I missed a few, but if we want to train them or change the description of the job, fine, lets have that conversation.
Increasing and reallocating resources to assist officers in calls for service that involve a mental health crisis, crowd control, delivering death notifications, and other non-enforcement duties expected of officers is essential for our community to get the best quality of services for our taxpayers’ dollars. Adding funds to these nonenforcement services would help our police departments focus on the jobs they were best trained to do: protect and serve.
There are many questions we have to ask ourselves as ambassadors of Christ, as families, as community members, and as a nation.
In the end, we can all work together to bring JOY in the midst of all the pain.
Also, See Peter Vazquez video HERE