Cameras are rolling, but nobody's smiling. The blood on the ground tells a story of great grief, but also reminds me of the good news.
The blood of the voiceless speaks volumes (Louder than a megaphone)
Yesterday morning my two-year old son ran carelessly in the playground down the street from my apartment with his tiny friends and day care provider. Last night in that same playground, a young man in his early 20's was shot multiple times by another young man, after a fight broke out on the basketball court around 8:00pm. A local resident told Bronx News reporters that his son was playing basketball just a few yards away when the shooting occurred, and described it as a chaotic scene; stating "The park was full of parents and kids, and everybody started running". I'm sure at some point in the night after the young man (boy) was hauled off in an ambulance with screaming sirens, the crowd of onlookers dispersed, and all the evidence had been collected by detectives; the blood on the ground was power washed. Diluted and eventually washed away. But not before it's cry reached the heavens.
The blood of the voiceless speaks volumes; louder than protests, riots and megaphones. The bible tells a story in the book of Genesis chapter 4 of the world's first documented human murder, and injustice... The atrocity committed by none other than the victim's brother. How fitting is it that this ancient story would depict violence between brothers? After all, aren't we all connected as brothers and sisters in some way? Whether the killer wears a badge, or a bandanna, underneath the title and attire is a man, a human... Two persons, linked by their shared creator, and even their own sometimes uncanny similarities. So while we get caught up in outward appearance, race, class, titles, generalizations, and stereo types, the blood dyeing the earth red cries out to God. Genesis 4:9 Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's guardian?" Then He said, "What have you done? Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground!"
Red Thumb (Is The Blood on Our Hands?)
Police departments across the nation of America are under tremendous scrutiny for the killings of unarmed black men such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Walter Scott. NYC was also recently rocked by the tragic murder of two NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Meanwhile, communities across the country are also mourning senseless murders occurring far too often, particularly in urban and impoverished areas by baby face criminals with barely any girth, but plenty of guns. Here in NYC young people wear laminated photos of deceased friends and relatives around their necks as a way to pay respect and mourn their loss. These laminated photo necklaces are so prevalent, one may mistake them for a fashion trend. Legendary rapper Common moved by the burden of blood shed in his hometown of Chicago titled his latest studio album Nobody's Smiling to illustrate the mood of the city due to the plague of violence. Common explains the inspiration for the album in an interview with Forbes magazine saying, “We talked about what was going on in Chicago,” says Common. “Then we said, ‘Man, we can do more. Like, we owe it to them.’ That’s where Nobody’s Smiling really started.”
We can do more... These are exactly the words that are bouncing off the walls in my mind. Followed by the question, "And if we don't, will their blood be on our hands?". I wonder how many people were diverted from acts of hatred, and violence because someone loved them, and poured into their lives treasures of worth and value. Sure there are many contributing factors that lead to violence, and many people who were "loved" (the definition of love is an entirely different conversation) have still been guilty of committing terrible acts of violence. But still, I dare to believe that truly investing in people, genuinely and intentionally loving someone, can change the course of their lives for the better regardless of their background. Love never fails.
Ezekiel 3:19 But if you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life. Ezekiel 3:21 But if you warn the righteous person that he should not sin, and he does not sin, he will indeed live because he listened to your warning, and you will have saved your life.
Acts 20:25 And now I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of everyone's blood, for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.
Circumcision of The Heart (Non invasive Heart Surgery)
Plenty of people are investing their influence...Time, talents, and treasures into finding solutions to this problem that dates all the way back to Cain & Abel. Forbes writer Zach Omalley Greenberg writes in his article featuring Common, "Meanwhile, Chicago’s leaders are pressing ahead with their own solutions to the city’s gun violence problems, with varying degrees of success. In January, a federal judge shot down a ban on gun shops; in May, Mayor Emanuel introduced a proposal that would limit gun buyers to one purchase per month and require all sales to be videotaped. "
On a practical level there are many things we can do to work toward positive change in our communities, encouraging healthier interrelationships between Police officers and the people they serve, developing better relationships within the community in general. We're all brothers and sisters right? But ultimately the change that needs to take place... Is a change of heart. A racist is racist with or without laws put in place to prevent and or punish racial injustices. Hatred doesn't check what laws congress is passing before it shows its ugly head. Young impressionable minds will act out the lies they've been fed regardless of the enrichment programs in their neighborhood. This isn't to belittle man's effort, but rather to emphasize God's transformative power as much greater than anything we could ever achieve.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and behold all things are become new.
God is no stranger to innocent blood
As we wrestle with these situations, standing with our brothers and sisters in solidarity, and grieving with those who grieve, let's remember that God is no stranger to the shedding of innocent blood. As I referenced earlier, the very first book in the bible tells the story of the earth opening its mouth to swallow the innocent blood of Abel after he was murdered by his own brother Cain. Genesis 4:11 So now you are cursed with alienation from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood you have shed. The list goes on, Stephen was stoned to death while preaching; Acts 7:54. But the greatest story of innocent blood, blood that brought about both grief and good news, is the story of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. John chapter 19.
Life in the blood (All life matters)
Finally the good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God so loved the "World". That includes Police officers, felons, the innocent, the guilty, and everyone in between. All life matters. All life matters to God so much that he was willing to take on human flesh and lay his life down as a ransom to reconcile all men unto him. Philippians 2:5,8 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for his own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death even to death on a cross. We learn in the book of Genesis that life is in the blood, and today modern science agrees. Take courage in knowing the blood of Christ was shed for you, that you may have power over sin and death, and have everlasting life. Revelation 1:5 - And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
Sources include Bronx news http://bronx.news12.com/news/24-year-old-man-shot-3-times-at-caserta-playground-in-parkchester-1.10275694
Forbes magazine: Common explains why nobody's smiling in Chicago by Zach O'Malley Greenburg http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/07/22/common-explains-why-nobodys-smiling-in-chicago/