Selfish pride imposes fantasy ethics on a real world.
Nationwide rioting followed publication of a video that shows a policeman kneeling on the neck of a man George Floyd who shortly died. The video recalled other instances of deadly misconduct by agents of law enforcement, and demonstrations arose in cities across America and continue.
A demand for just conduct by police has been one focus of the demonstrations; specifically that policemen must treat with justice and restraint prisoners and others they encounter in performance of duties. That is a demand that Americans can understand, organize to deal with, and bring about changes in the legal framework that governs police behavior.
Hopefully a spirit of mutual respect between police and citizens will grow out of collaborative efforts to strengthen the flawed framework of discipline for rogue policemen.
Tragically, violence and visionary agendas for transforming society are filling the space for conversation about specific, reasonable and manageable reform.
A psalm of David says: “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and marvelous for me.” Psalm 31:1. This is the humble spirit I see in the grieving anger of people who have joined to peaceably seek change in the behavior that killed George Floyd.
They are demanding do-able corrections to definable wrongs. I honor that spirit and join with them.
However, the spirit of people breaking, burning, assaulting and killing that occurs alongside gatherings of peaceable people is not the spirit to which King David referred. The violent people seem to use the heartbreak over George Floyd for a springboard to promote their conception of a new social order. Arrogance. Pride.
They are not striving to bring justice and restraint to law enforcement. Their hearts ARE lifted up; their eyes ARE raised too high: they DO occupy themselves with things too great and marvelous for them.
The persisting violence has placed America at a crossroads: those who desire correction of rogue policemen must find a way of expressing their demands that does not provide a springboard for revolutionaries. For this to occur governors, mayors, and local leaders must honor their oaths of office and not stand on the sidelines.
They must maintain order.
Firmness with justice may not earn them any votes, but it may restore safety to their states, cities and neighborhoods.
The other branch of the crossroads, standing aside as many are doing, leads to endless escalation of disorder and inconceivable harm to our citizens.
If black lives are to matter every time black people encounter police, it’s time to focus and insist on specific measurable reforms in policing. Prolonged demonstrations over nebulous issues that revolutionaries co-opt for their agendas only confuse the issue and dissipate hope.