I thought about going to Ferguson. It is not so terribly far away. I saw pictures of a white female pastor participating in the protests. Could I, like her, be of help? But, she was from the community. I am an outsider. What do I know? Do I intrude upon this community in their struggle so I can feel good about standing against injustice?
There was some talk of pastors putting themselves between the protestors and the police. I understand using position of privilege to intervene for others. Yet would using the position of pastor as a shield not in a sense condone the grading of human lives as more or less worthy of protection? Does this not lend some credence to attitudes which say “he robbed a store, therefore it is okay he was killed?” The life of a pastor should not be more valuable than any other human life.
Part of me was relieved to see a church presence at those protests because too often the church is absent from justice issues. Another part of me wanted to roll my eyes. Remember that old and no longer politically correct joke about dyslexic people worshipping dog? I think there was more truth in the joke than we realized but not just for people with learning disabilities. Way too often the Christian church treats God like some cosmic dog who needs to constantly mark his territory. If we stand up for justice do we have to do so while waving a cross in the air? Do we have to claim our actions as Christian rather than simply human? Can we not work for justice without it feeling like a publicity stunt?
Everywhere I turn I have more questions than answers. Yet the pain of racism in this country has been laid bare before us. Regardless of the particularities of this particular case the anger it has revealed does not fall from the sky. There are racist realities in our society which need to be acknowledged, confronted and transformed into justice. I do not know how to help this happen. A wise friend once told me if I hold myself open to helping in such situations opportunity will come. It already has in some very small ways. So, I hold myself open to helping fight the injustice of racism and other injustices, not as a pastor, not as a white person, not as a Christian but as a human being with no more or less value than any other human being.
For now, it is the only thing I know to do.