There’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter, like arguing about one another’s mottos about what matters!
Just so you know, I’m pretty sure that it’s my life that actually matters most! Okay, I’m willing to concede that everyone who looks like me and agrees with me matter too––somewhat.
Of course, we also stand for the officers who are serving their communities faithfully and with equanimity. Saying “black lives matter” is not choosing sides against law enforcement. It’s not saying that all cops are bad any more than it’s saying that all blacks are good.
It’s a contextualized statement, like saying “Children’s Lives Matter.” That doesn’t mean adult lives don’t matter! In Hitler’s Germany precious few courageous souls stood and said in effect, “Jewish Lives Matter!” [Before you rush to the reply button, I intend no precise correlation between German Nazism and American racism.] Nevertheless, racism is racism.
Nobody in their right mind believes that it’s “only” black lives––or blue ones, for that matter––that actually matter. In a semi-literate society we really shouldn’t have to explain that the dictum simply means that black lives matter too!
For clarity sake, this “too” isn’t the same as the other two “to’s” in our language. Though this too has two meanings, as in “too much” and “me too,” the former meaning being the one implied by the “Black Lives Matter (too)” movement.
So we should not be confused by the assumption that black folks only matter “to” us, or that there are only “two” of them or us that matter. Those are those other pesky two to’s. The “too” that we’re trying to clarify is the one that means also, the one we shouldn’t need to need in order to make it redundantly obvious that we don’t mean they’re the only ones that matter.
If all that seems too convoluted, I recommend just reverting back to me being the one who matters (most).
It’s a no brainer that all lives matter––black ones and blue ones included. In the first place that a certain group of humans have to be singled out as having value should be our first clue that something is wrong here.
Jesus repeatedly highlighted the worth of the least, last, and lost. He claimed that the Father sent him to preach the gospel to the “poor.” He never said the rich were his primary target audience. Why was that? Did he not love the rich as much as he did the poor? Of course he did; but it was the poor that were the most overlooked by his contemporaries (and ours) and he felt their worth needed to be underscored. And by the way, when Jesus thought something needed reinforcing, it did. If we read his story honestly, the things he said and did for the poor add up to an implied: “Poor Lives Matter!” Nobody, except maybe some of the rich, would expect him to qualify that “Rich Lives Matter” too.
Throughout the entire Bible God gives particular attention to the poor. Tim Keller says:
“The Bible says that God is the defender of the poor; it never says he is the defender of the rich. And while some texts call for justice for members of the well-off classes as well, the calls to render justice to the poor outnumber such passages by a hundred to one. Why? Rich people can certainly be treated unjustly, but it is a simple fact that the lower classes are usually disproportionately actual victims of injustice. Injustice is not equally distributed.”
“Injustice is not equally distributed.” Selah!
Keller also wrote, “The strong must disadvantage themselves for the weak, the majority for the minority, or the community frays and the fabric breaks.”
Injustice is the abuse of power at the expense of the powerless. Those who have the most power are the most responsible to wield it equitably. That’s why we’re more incensed when a public official, a priest, or a parent abuses his power to exploit a vulnerable employee or child. Any time someone harms another human it’s evil, but the person who abuses his or h power over the powerless for their own gain earns greater culpability.
When we say that “Black Lives Matter,” we’re saying that those sworn to protect the citizenry have a greater responsibility to de-escalate rather than escalate precarious situations. They’re the ones with the badge, the biggest guns (usually), and the body armor. And of course, when lethal force is called for they have the right and responsibility to use it as a last resort. While members of the black community have no excuse for pre-emptive or reactive violence, it’s the police that bear the greater responsibility to wield their authority and greater power to serve and protect in as peaceful a way as possible.
We all agree that all humans matter, and anyone who doesn’t is a dolt! But when some humans routinely treat other humans as though they don’t matter, someone has to remind them that those lives actually do matter! Nobody would’ve had to coin the phrase that black lives matter if so many Americans weren’t conducting life as though black lives didn’t matter that much!
Imagine that one of the houses on your block is burning down while all the other houses are unaffected. The homeowner rushes out into the street and screams to everyone standing around watching it burn, “Help, my house is on fire! My house matters!” Nobody makes the argument, “Well, my house matters as much as yours!” The house that’s burning at the time is the one that matters most!
No one’s saying that the black community is the only one that has a problem, but I don’t think it can be disputed that it is burning! So, for God’s sake, stop arguing about whose house matters most. Turn on your hose and help your neighbor!
Let us all pray for the day when all Americans treat all lives with love and respect so that movements like Black Lives Matter don’t even need to exist. In the meantime…