They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. – Jeremiah 6:14
“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
Those of us, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and our colleagues and all who oppose violence, must be the most steadfast advocates for justice. Otherwise we are simply asking our people to acquiesce in their oppression.
In these times it is not hard to see injustice all around us. Some people work from home, while others are “essential” and must risk their lives at jobs that put them at aggravated risk of exposure to a deadly virus. Many, many others simply lose their jobs altogether, and so lose whatever little economic security they may have had, and also lose their employer-provided health insurance.
Lives are upended and changed forever. We make the necessary call for us all to work together, to help one another, to share out the abundance that this society has produced so that all the children of God will have enough. To have empathy for the difficulties of others, as we recognize that all are struggling in these times.
But America’s “original sin” of racism has not gone away. And it has no empathy.
We see it as a Central Park birdwatcher is threatened by a woman with an unleashed dog, saying she will call 911 “to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”
We also see it in the murder of an unarmed black man at the hands of Minneapolis police because he may have tried to spend a fake $20 bill.
One of these events took a life; the other threatened, and also ground down the dignity of a person of color, another daily dose of oppression. In normal times (whatever they were) it was hard enough not to be torn apart by such events. In today’s America it is impossible. Ahmaud, Breonna, George… it has not stopped, nor even slowed.
Not all forms of violence are equivalent. The government provides lethal weapons, and authority, and the expectation of impunity to the police. They must be held accountable. People from marginalized communities who suffer everyday indignities while others just like themselves are killed, and who march or rally to protest, see the very same police, with military weapons and armored vehicles, deployed against them, telling them to leave, to move, to stop; when the right to peaceful protest is hemmed in by the armored and helmeted “authorities” who hit them with tear gas – choking them during a respiratory viral pandemic – when some whose anger pushes them to the desperation of violence, we know they need justice to bring them to peace.
As the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah knew over 2,600 years ago, there is no peace and there can be none when the wounds of the people are treated carelessly. There can be no peace until there is justice.
But let Justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. – Amos 5:24
Please consider a donation to bail out arrested protesters through the national non-profit, The Bail Project.