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finding meaning
How We Respond

Like many Americans, we at Via Meadia have been reflecting on this week’s awful shootings and thinking about how the country can and should respond. Scrolling through our social media feeds, Senator Ben Sasse’s words struck us as particularly wise:

There is a distressing gap between the smart phone footage and the kind of country we want to pass on to our kids. Every American—Republican, Democrat, black, and white—wants something better for our children. We all ache for peace and justice. While we may disagree on some policies to pursue those aims, we cannot forget that these are still our common aims.

There are no easy solutions for our communities that have been sown with distrust and violence. This must necessarily involve lawmakers but it is bigger than politics and will primarily depend on parents, pastors, and civic leaders.

As national as our conversations may sometimes feel in the Internet age, the most meaningful exchanges still happen in the car on the way to school, in the pews before prayers begin, at community dinners, and during the lunch break. In that vein, we found this advice from Pastor Russell Moore to be helpful:

The past week reeks of blood. We saw the cellphone videos of black men killed by police officers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. We saw a terrorist ambush on police in Dallas, killing at least five officers and injuring seven. The country reels beneath all this violence. So how should a pastor speak to this on Sunday? Here are a few suggestions.

1) Pray specifically for the families of those killed, by name.

One of the most chilling aspects of the violence we see around us is the attempt at invisibility, as though those who are killed lived lives that didn’t matter. This is not new. After Cain killed Abel, he chafed at even the reminder of his existence (Gen. 4). Read aloud as you pray the names that we have:

Pray not only for their families to be comforted, but also for justice to be served, that others—whether police officers protecting a rally or African-American young men in any given city in America—would no longer be unjustly killed.

[…]

6) Consider a word of testimony.

If your church is one that can easily identify with the plight of police officers but not with those of African-Americans grieving the deaths of those shot by police, consider asking an African-American parent to speak for a few moments of what he or she experiences with worries about his or her child. If your church is one that is grieved and angry about the way black lives don’t seem to matter but does not know how to grieve for police officers slain in the course of duty, perhaps ask a godly law enforcement officer to speak about how he or she seeks to live out the ethic of Jesus in maintaining public order. In either case, pray then not only for the person who has offered testimony but for all who are in similar situations.

Moore lists seven ideas in total, and they’re all worth reflecting on no matter your personal beliefs about God. We’d encourage you to read the whole thing.

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  • WigWag
  • Andrew Allison

    Enough! How about the 74% of people killed by police who are not black? How many of the black killing were unjustified? [http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/07/are-blacks-disproportionately-involved-in-police-shootings.php]

    • Arkeygeezer

      The Washington post has upgraded its database for 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2016/ and it runs about the same percentages as 2015.

      Of 512 people shot to death by police nationwide year-to-date 2016, 237 were white, 123 were black, 80 were Hispanic, 23 were other, and 48 were unknown.
      We need to respond to the criminal problem; not the racial problem. This is a criminal problem made a racial problem by racists.

      • Nevis07

        Thanks for that link. I suppose you’d have to next adjust those numbers for percentage of population by race next. But still as you say, the question is about criminality not of race. Race is just the lens that the left have chosen to view this in.

        • Andrew Allison

          As the link which I provide elucidates, the number of deaths is proportional to the number of criminals, i.e. there is no racial bias here.

          • Nevis07

            Sorry Andrew, hadn’t had time to check the link before. At any rate, I think this goes a long way to proving what any of us who have been trying to make sense of all of this means. It’s unfortunate, it’s been cast in the light that it has been by the media and most of political talking heads…

          • Andrew Allison

            It’s time that we, and TAI, had the courage to protest the gross misrepresentations of the BGI.

        • Beauceron

          Of course. 123 are black but they are only 12-13 percent of the population, while whites are 62%.

          But then you also have to factor in violent crime rates. Asians make up 5.6% of the population, but hardly register at all on police shooting statistics. It’s because they commit very few violent crimes. Blacks commit a wildly high number of vilent crimes, especially, gun crimes. So they get involved with the police far more often.

          This is not a racist police problem. This is a violence problem.

          • Nevis07

            Yes, and as I’ve said before, policies and laws are increasingly divided along inner cities problems compared to the rest of the country. Hence, federal laws such as gun control are of no use in solving these problems. Either you work toward the fundamental issues, such as single parent households, gang violence and drug use (all problems that affect every demographic and geographic of the country) or you effectively live with and enhance the problem in the long run.

            To me, racism as the problem is the easy way out – like most liberal policies. They think if they can just brand and jail all racists that suddenly everything will just be fine when of course anyone with a few brain cells knows is not true. If there is any hope for this country, it’s going to be a long hard drudge through some very basic and fundamental problems and it’s not solvable with quick fixes. Blaming police, racism and guns are just evidence of symptoms to the corresponding but ultimately underlying issues.

    • Tom

      Once you think of BLM and Trump supporters as being similar it starts to make a lot more sense.

  • Anthony

    How We Respond! Well, it depends as self-serving bias is part of the evolutionary price we pay for being social animals. But the sentiment will probably be received with mixed response – self-deception is an exotic theory (paradoxical).https://www.thenation.com/article/black-lives-still-must-matter-even-after-dallas/

  • CaliforniaStark

    Things need to be put in perspective; in Chicago over the July 4th holiday, 82 people were shot, of whom 14 died. In Chicago last year 2986 people were shot, of whom 315 died. There are likely to be more shootings this year, as by mid 2016 Chicago had about 1,953 shootings. The vast majority of shooting victims were African-American, shot by other African-Americans. In the U.S., about 80% of all shootings involved gangs in urban neighbors; the victims are overwhelmingly African-Americans. In a past year the total amount of gang-related deaths in the U.S. was about 8,448.

    Believe that there should be a full investigation of the two police shootings, and better police training. But shouldn’t we be focused on the carnage that is now taking place in urban areas, involving African-Americans shooting other African-Americans in what amounts to gang warfare? Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, shouldn’t he be held accountable for not addressing this issue as president?

  • Pete

    “Why can’t we all just get along” … the late Rodney King.

    Is that the message?

    • Andrew Allison

      Because there’s no political hay to be made by acknowledging that we do.

  • Beauceron

    It is my opinion that the distrust and hatred is now too deep to be repaired.

    We need to end the project that was the US and break up into 5-8 different countries. It is a dead project anyway, we just don’t want to admit that.

    The President and his former head of the DOJ Holder, always insisted we needed to have an honest conversation about race. But that is the last thing they want.Our elites, from politicians to the media to academics refuse to admit that we have a massive problem with violent black people in this country. Instead they have created a myth that young black men are hunted by racist white cops supported by an inherently and irredeemably racist white population.

    But in NYC, where I live, young black males, who comprise around 6%-7% of the population, commit 68% of the gun violence. That is a staggering number. And any group that is responsible for that proportion of gun violence is going to get in a lot of altercations with police. But they are not out hunting black men; they are battling with an incredibly violent portion of our society. I have no doubt there are racist police. I have no doubt there are incompetent police. But this is not, at its root, a policing problem. It is a violence problem. But our politicians, led by our President, have made the predators in our society out to be the prey.

    In parallel to this academics and the media have advanced the idea that all whites– ALL of them– are inherently racist. That is, in itself, incredibly racist and bigoted.

    How can there be any dialogue? How can there be trust?

    Seriously.

    We have gone far beyond being able to fix this mess.

    • Arkeygeezer

      No, the American Experiment is not beyond repair.

      For the last 240 years America has been evolving and absorbing ethnic and racial problems that have threatened the proposition that the people can govern themselves. Whether it was the waves of Europeans, Asians, Africans, or Orientals. The British Loyalists, Molly McQuires, Black Hand, Anarchists, Mafia, the Yellow Peril, Drug Cartels, the Bund, Nazis, Communists, and all other criminal gangs that have threatened our freedom; yet, we have survived stronger and greater than ever before.

      If we work at it, recognize this for what it is, a criminal problem, and resolve it with cooperation and compromise as we have in the past, the American Experiment will continue to survive and prosper.

      • Beauceron

        I think looking at the past and believing, because it worked out then it will work out now, belies the fact that things are very different today. When in our past has academia promoted the position the every single person of a particular race is born racist? When have our schools and culture been so riddled through with identity politics? When have we had such massive non-european immigration, which, for all its differences was at least from a similar base culture? When in any country in history, outside of conquest or colonialism, have the demographics changes so rapidly as they have in the US over the past 30 years?

        And with respect, this is never–not ever– going to be viewed as a crime problem. I agree that is what it is, but you’d better be very careful where you say that. The truth is simply not permitted and if you say that in public in many areas of the country, you are very likely to be beaten. It will continue to be portrayed as a white racism problem. That’s the narrative, and you had better agree with it in public.

  • Anthony

    Reading Dr. Russell Moore’s essays elicits thought that this is The United States of America – and a loathing for consequences of our failing to deal forthrightly with our Original Sin remains a constant totem for despairing for some segments (members) of our great country.

    Lamentation and conflating criminality and warrantless violence may make easy answers to complex institutional dynamic forces but may also reveal a nostalgia for an era (the good old days) that really weren’t all that good.

    Dr. Moore’s essay speaks to a Christian America (and to non-Christians) and asks us to face the trials of Race, Racism, and Violence – recognizing the societal embedment of each which continues to bedevil America. Inferred from Dr. Moore’s essay is that this crucible (which has beset our Nation since her inception) risks avoidance at country’s well being. Essay asks us to not run, quit, separate, or despair but to resolve the question “who” and “what’ are Americans.

  • Blackbeard

    The way the present Democratic Party is configured they need 90%+ black support and strong black turnout to have a chance in national elections. However Democratic policies do not actually deliver much in results for the black population. For an example consider the quality of inner city schools which can’t be reformed because of the opposition of the teachers unions another core Democratic constituency. Or look at unemployment in the black community, or the lack of wage growth.

    Race relations aren’t going to improve because the Democratic Party needs them not to improve.

    • Anthony

      The Democratic Party (or The Republican Party) doesn’t improve Race relations; people do willingly.

      • Blackbeard

        Do you really think that when the president chooses someone like Al Sharpton to be a key domestic policy adviser and spokesman, to mention just one example, it has no effect on race relations?

        • Anthony

          This is not about Sharpton. New Yorkers incubated that Federal informant.

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