“The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”– Ezekiel 37:1-3
In the middle of this morning’s spiritual reading-meditation, I peeked (as I peaked in the session) at the news from Ferguson, hoping for the best, hoping that the righteous voices of those who are peacefully marching for justice, would not take a back seat to the “post-march” violence. I am very sad… People (and I am part of those people) are trying to make some logical arguments to the desperately dispossessed:
Acts of vandalism and random violence do not honor Michael Brown or his family.
All of the looting and destruction are self-inflicted wounds that will take years to heal; you are only destroying the place where you will need to live and shop.
The continued acts of lawlessness and violence, aid in the defense of the police officer. For those mean-spirited people who are seeking any justification for the crime committed against Michael Brown, any distraction is a welcome opportunity.
Angry? Register to vote, and then vote….
“Make some noise”, in school by becoming academically competent and excellent.
Get agitated about and change the “small” things that undermine the beauty, progress and promise of your community; the things you can control.
And the positive presence, calming and inspiring words of role models like Capt. Ron Johnson and a President Barak Obama…
But our logic and reason won’t be heard by those who are so far out of the American orbit such that they might as well be living on another planet, called “hopeless”. I have seen “the look” of hopelessness, early in the eyes of middle school students (mostly Black and Latino males); who at some point have come to an understanding (and like the young men of Ferguson, also respond inappropriately) that they are in the 6, 7 or 8th grades, and they can’t read and do math effectively enough to function as “real” students in those grades. And so they act out in a negative way, because somehow they know (despite all of our positive encouragements), that they are getting older, and with each grade, school is getting harder; and they are moving further and further behind academically. School for them is quickly, painfully and slowly becoming less of “that great American ladder” to success, and more of a place where their personhood is diminished and assaulted on a daily basis; because they can’t really grab the rungs of that ladder of opportunity. To be alive is to “act”, and they see their only option is to act badly, to call attention to the fact that they are at least alive. Believing that you are living without hope is a very difficult and sad way to live; and it creates a world view that is very different from those who do seem to have hope. We (the hopeful majority) want so much for young men of color in places like Ferguson, Philadelphia, Chicago, NYC or Baton Rouge to see their true human possibilities; humanity that can’t be fully realized through crime and violence. But contrary to our thoughts and wishes, these young men see destruction and violence as their only chance to act, and be fully human. For those of us in this nation who have the opportunity to function as full (or even partially) human, we can’t understand their logic of hopelessness. They are under or poorly educated, unprepared and inadequately skilled for a modern economy. And even if they partially escape the miseducation pipe-line, they can expect to be discriminated against and despised by the nation of their birth. Think they don’t know what is going on in our nation; think again (talk to them!) They see themselves as the real “border refugees”; only they are trapped without an escape plan inside of the US border, as we pretend that they are full citizens and heirs to the American dream. Daily they stand in hunger, glaring though the window of TV at the prosperity of those dinning on the fruits of the most powerful and resourced rich nation on earth; a nation that has only offered them employment opportunities during slavery. In their Unfortunate eyes, they have nothing to gain, and nothing to lose from listening to our logic; in fact they can’t hear us because they are the real “walking dead”; they are the dry dead bones of our nation; who know they can only speak, and be heard through violence and destruction; inflicting pain that is felt beyond themselves. It will take compassionate courage on our part to cause these dry dead bones to speak in our language. Will it ever happen?…. “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”