(Ferguson, Missouri) Responses to a Grand Jury Decision: Misguided Rage and Narrow Perspectives

Today is Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Last night as I traveled home from work I learned from one of my brothers the sad news that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri did not indict Darren Wilson for the assassination of Michael Brown. Like many others, I was heartbroken but not surprised. I had hoped the jurors would demonstrate courage and justice by simply confirming the absolute wrongfulness of Darren Wilson’s actions on that fateful day when he took the life of an unarmed person, whom many witnesses say was trying to surrender but was instead assassinated. Unfortunately, my hope was not realized.

This morning as I scanned the cable news networks for reactions to the grand jury’s decision, I was instead bombarded with news anchors and reporters editorializing about the destruction of small businesses and property in the Ferguson community. While I agree the looting and fire setting should not have happened. It seems to me that most of the media focus was on the wrong thing. The coverage should have centered on the fact that a young man was assassinated and his murderer was exonerated.

Burning and looting is wrong. The people involved in destroying structures in Ferguson, Missouri committed crimes. Unlike Darren Wilson, most of those involved will be arrested, charged, tried, and convicted for their part in destroying property. On the other hand, Darren Wilson is free even though his actions destroyed a life, a family, and tore a community apart. After all, it was his killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent decision by the grand jury not to indict Wilson that sparked the peaceful protests that were regrettably hijacked by petty criminals and resulted in the widespread destruction of property.

The irony of the situation is, a good deal of the morning after news coverage focused on the loss of property and not on the loss of Michael Brown’s life, nor the missed opportunity by the grand jury to hold Darren Wilson accountable for the taking of Brown’s life. .

It is Testimony Time!!

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Honor to God for all things great and small. Praise God for food and shelter and for decent clothing. Praise God for an earned income.  Praise God for work and leisure. Praise God for relative health. Praise God for peace of mind. Praise God for living in a country where I am free to worship the God of my parents and grandparents, the Creator of all things great and small.

Thank you God for my late mother, Ozzie Hoots, and for the invaluable life lessons I learned from her.  It was she who introduced me to and taught me about Jesus.  It was she who taught me to read and to reason. It was she who introduced me to the arts and made me aware of the value of different cultures. It was she who inspired me to volunteer and to want to help make the world better. It was through her that I developed an understanding of humans as 3-diminsional beings: body, soul, and spirit. Thank you for using my mother’s life to help me understand that each of us is deeper than what the world sees. Thank you for using my mother to help teach me about your amazing grace and love for all humankind! Thank you God for my mother-Ozzie Hoots!

Lyrics for Today

My soul loves Jesus, my soul loves Jesus. My soul loves Jesus, bless His name. My soul loves Jesus. My soul loves Jesus. My soul loves Jesus. Bless his name.

He is a wonder in my soul. He is a wonder in my soul. He is a wonder in my soul. Bless His name. He is a wonder in my soul. He is a wonder in my soul. He is  a wonder in my soul. Bless His name!

Jesus I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me.

Jesus I’ll never forget how you set me free. Jesus I’ll ever forget how you brought me out.

Jesus I’ll never forget, no never.

I’m running for my life. I’m running for my life. I’m running for my life, I’m running for my life.

If anyone should ask you what’s the matter with me, just tell them she saved, sanctified, Holy Ghost

filled, and fire baptized. She’s got Jesus on her side and she is running for her life.

When I think about the goodness of Jesus and all that He has done for me my soul cries out HALLELUJAH.  I thank God for saving me.

An Emerging Awareness

When I started researching confirmed cases of police brutality that have occurred in the United States within the past 15 years my objectives were to:

  1. determine the number and types of substantiated cases;
  2. identify the race/ethnicity and gender of the law enforcement officials and suspects most often involved in police brutality cases;
  3.  develop an action plan with a specific objective and three to five measureable goals;
  4. share that action plan with likeminded people, including captains of local police precincts;
  5. encourage local municipalities to establish a safe way for police to report abuse without fear of retribution.

The preliminary results of that research are highlighted in a post I wrote titled, “A Call for Action.” My hope is the post will raise awareness about the widespread practice and frequent use of excessive force by law enforcement officials. I also hope that after reading the post readers are catapulted to form coalitions that work with local precincts to eradicate police brutality.

Proceed with Caution: A Biblical Response to Personal Rejection-(The Original Text)

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6

Rejection in one form or another is common to the human experience,  and not every rejection is personal or exacted to cause harm.  For example, the denial of a request for credit means the lender rejects the request to borrow; it does not mean the lender has rejected the requester.   Similarly, when a candidate loses his or her bid for elected office voters reject the candidate’s ideas, not the candidate.  Likewise, the loving and sound advice of a parent that is rejected by his or her child does not mean the child rejects the parent.  To the contrary, the child simply rejects the parent’s advice about a particular situation.  As illustrated by the preceding examples, rejection is not always the repudiation of an individual.

Matthew 7:6 is part of The Sermon on the Mount that Jesus delivered to his followers. At the time, Jesus’ claims about himself were extremely controversial and not widely accepted. It was against that backdrop that Jesus warned his followers about the violent rejections they would incur because of the, then, “radical” views and proclamations they would make about Jesus’ Divine nature and about the new way of life Jesus’ followers were to adopt.

A paraphrase of the referenced passage might read: “Do not share spiritual gifts with those who lack the spiritual depth to appreciate the worth of what is offered. Know that you will encounter some so vehemently opposed to what you teach that they may try to destroy you.”  It is clear from any reasonable paraphrase or translation of the text that Jesus was not referring to simple differences of opinions or disagreements. Instead Jesus was warning his followers that their message about Him would so incense some, that the intended recipients might revert to violence against the messengers in an attempt to destroy the message.

Despite the historical context in which Matthew 7:6 was given, the passage offers a model for dealing with those rejections that intend to denigrate, embarrass, isolate, subjugate, or show disdain. Examples include the ruse of inviting a person to a party for the sole purpose of humiliating him or her.  The whole point of the cruel prank is to show the person that the prankster rejects the victim as part of his or her group. Similarly, an invitation to an event that is extended to every classmate except one (with whom there is no conflict) signals repudiation of the excluded person. Exclusion is a form of repudiation and repudiation is always meant to denigrate. When harm is the intent of rejection, the words of Mathew 7:6 make it clear that the rejection reflects the disturbed nature of the one doing the rejecting and does not depreciate the worth of the rejected person.

We are created by and in God’s image. Therefore, we are valuable even if our worth is not acknowledged by others. Moreover, 1 Corinthians 6:9 reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”  No amount of rejection can take away from the power of that truth.

A Biblical Response to Personal Rejection

  1. Rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 4:4
  2. Ask God for help in distinguishing between the rejection of ideas and the rejection of a person.
  3. Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:7
  4. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 28
  5. Put on the whole armor of God in order to withstand attacks. Ephesians 6:11
  6. Stay away from those who don’t appreciate your worth. Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5
  7. Pray for God to help you overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
  8. Cast your burdens-hurt, disappointment, dejection- on the Lord.1 Peter 5:7
  9. Know that God will use the harm that was leveled against you to His glory and to your good. Romans 8:28
  10. Remember, God loves you. John 3:16

Proceed with Caution: or Responding to Personal Rejection

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6

In the preceding passage, Jesus highlights the danger of and warns against giving valuables to those who either don’t appreciate the worth of what is offered; or who resent the gift giver.

Implicit in the passage is the notion that the rejection of a genuine offer of a gift reflects the disturbed nature of the intended recipient, and does not in any way reflect negatively upon the gift or upon the one offering the gift. Conversely, the passage suggests the sick nature of the intended recipient is evidenced by his or her violent response to a valuable gift.

Additionally, a  rebuffed offer of: friendship, love, trust, loyalty, time, talent, companionship, or sound advice, does not in any way depreciate the worth of the gift giver or the gift. His or her worth is inherent because he or she was created by and in the image of the Creator.

Responding to Personal Rejection?

1. Rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 4:4

2.  Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:7

3.  Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 28

4.  Put on the whole armor of God. Ephesians so that you can quench the fiery darts of the devil. 6:11

5. Shake the dust off of your feet. Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5

6. Pray for God to help you overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21:

7.  Remember:  some things come about only through prayer. Mark 9:29

7.  Have faith in God

8. Stop talking with those who  don’t value our opinions.

9. Stop associating with those who think less of us than they think of themselves.

10. Stop hobnobbing with people who don’t want  us around.

11.  Stop trying to help people who don’t want our help.

12.  Heed Jesus’ warning and stop giving to those who don’t want us or our valuables. For not only will they reject our gifts; they may eventually try to destroy us.