Pastor's Blog

Equality or Value? An Answer to the "Race" Question in America

Posted by Mark Roath on July 11, 2016 @ 5:09 PM

 

Before any problem or conflict between two parties can be solved there must be an agreement on a definition of what really is the problem and that definition must be true.  If there is conflict in a marriage and the husband believes it is about her constant nagging and the wife believes it is about his insensitivity toward her as a person, there will be no resolution of the conflict until the husband first agrees that the wife is right and the wife agrees that the husband is right and solutions are sought.  With agreement, the husband can work on providing what the wife needs and vice versa.  Without real agreement the behavior will continue and there will be no satisfaction.  However, even if there is agreement on the problem, if the real problem is that their financial problems are causing stress and resulting in the behavior, then their conflict will remain.

When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), it seems that both the definition of the problem and the truth of that problem are being mishandled and therefore solutions are hard to come by.  Of course with all the anger and resentment that has sky-rocketed in the past few days, I’m not sure anyone is in a mood to have a reasonable discussion on the matter.  However, if someone were willing to set aside the assumption of guilt before the mouth is opened, we might have an intelligent discussion on the matter. 

When it comes to defining the problem, surely no one would disagree that the BLM problem is being defined in the context of civil rights.  However, for many Americans, when you bring up the words “civil rights” you are speaking of equality.  And immediately the movement is dismissed because many believe that race equality issues have been settled for quite some time.  As I read the BLM website and listen to the interviews of protestors on the news, it is clear that the movement isn’t seeking equality, rather it is seeking value.  The slogan reads that they are advocates for “dignity, justice and respect.”  I believe the true problem is that the black community does not feel valued in America.  As long as this is framed as a racial or equality issue, I don’t believe they will get anyone to agree that there is a problem.  Hence no one will work on a solution.    

However, even if everyone agreed on “not being valued” as the problem, the next issue would be to ask the question, “where does value come from?”  By framing the issue as race, the inference is that value, respect and dignity have been taken away by white supremacists.  Having been a preacher in country Churches, I can already hear the farmer proclaiming, “respect is earrrned.”  And there is the REAL problem.  Americans will disagree on the source of value.  What is the source for the value of a human being?  In a secular world view, which champions evolution as our origin, we are all equal, but our value is the same as animals and therefore, we must get value somewhere else.  Either from ourselves, through self-esteem or through others if we are oppressed.  BLM, is saying that they have been robbed of value by their oppressors.  They have taken this hint from the Secular Movement, which is being advanced rapidly in our culture, and places the government as the referee to insure, not freedom for all, but VALUE for all.  And so the government is left to even out the value by taking it from the oppressors and giving it to the oppressed, as if it were some kind of physical currency.  The problem is that value is a condition of the soul, not a condition of the pocketbook or the scepter.  In other words, money and power don’t buy self-value.  Therefore, the only play left, which is a meaningless play, is for the politicians to try and prove to the BLM that they are valued by giving them what they want as much as they can.  Indict innocent police officers, do federal investigations, let criminals go free, enforce a change of semantics within law enforcement, take away the program that arms police with used military equipment so that they won’t look so militant, try and get people together at the community table to listen to them etc.  And in the end, not one of their ploys will provide real value to the soul of the hurting. 

God has a better plan.  A Christian world view, which has been our tradition, advocates that value comes from God.  Specifically through the value placed on the individual through the death of Jesus on the cross.  With God we are created equal AND we are not only the highest form of His creation, we are worthy of the death of the One and Only Son of the Living God.  And that value is available to all.  God’s way instills hope, encouragement, perseverance and peace.  Without God, we are left angry, jealous, bitter and resentful.  God’s way leads to peace and life and love of each other.  Man’s way leads to death.  Specifically five Dallas Police officers.  Racism isn’t the problem and Secular thought isn’t the solution.  The more we pray together, seek the Lord and love our neighbors in the context of God as our advocate, not the government, the more we will find solutions.

Share it if you like it.  Comment if you want.  

Eloise said...

Posted on August 08, 2016 @ 9:46 AM -
Pastor Mark, you mentioned that our church is working to join with a black church in another town for fellowship. Since music always seems to help find common ground, would it be possible for both our choir and theirs to sing, and maybe even some combined choir singing? (I don't want to start anything complicated, but it does sound like fun.)

Natali said...

Posted on August 07, 2016 @ 7:55 AM -
It's such a complex issue, and yet so simple.
I migrated to the U.S. 16 years ago as a teenager with my mother and my American step father, here I met hundreds of amazing people, but every so often I would encounter a type of American mentality that no one cares to justify, the person that doesn't know who you are or where you have been nor cares to know, the person that sees you enjoying the same privileges as them, but still believes you don't deserve this joy, the person that grew in a household where grandma and grandpa often complained about the many inconveniences they suffered as a result of specific races, and often referred to people in derogatory ways, fomenting hate within their own families.
You may see faces but not the hearts of people.
Respect may be earned, but dignity is a quality of life we all should enjoy. When people say, I want to die with dignity they are saying, give me death, but don't kill my character, who I am as a person, what I stand for and what I value.
Racial hate is a real issue in this country not just for African American's, it's an ungly and unfortunate truth.
The only way we can change it is by getting to know the people and the stories behind these issues.
A congressional man may receive respect every day of his life until he is prideful, but a homeless man sleeping on the streets needs dignity, to know that he's worth more than gold. Is a child ever too young to receive respect? Who is ever entitled to distribute or entitled to receive such a gift? Yet Christ died for all.

Donald said...

Posted on July 12, 2016 @ 6:46 PM -
I don't know why my comment posted twice. It could be the issues with power and internet we've had in the recent days after the storm.

Anyway, I think another big step could be in recognizing, celebrating, and becoming comfortable with the sometimes large differences in racial cultures. The differences in culture will always keep races somewhat segregated, just based on personal preferences. However, this doesn't have to keep us segregated forever! The more we learn and become exposed with other cultures, the more we understand and become comfortable with including ourselves into other cultures and allowing other people to be subjected to our culture.

Donald said...

Posted on July 12, 2016 @ 6:41 PM -
I like that you identified a deeper issue than just civil rights. The problem with a lot of the BLM arguments that you hear from people is that they're trying to argue something that a large part of the country already considers to be resolved. Blacks can vote. Slavery has ended. There are plenty of policies the country has put forth to try and help advance the standing of minorities. To try and tell people that the government needs to do more to help them makes it sound like they're just begging for a handout instead of an equal chance.

The problem with the BLM movement isn't even the movement itself. The problem is the lack of leadership within the movement, specifically leadership that will take the movement in a clear direction. Is it a movement of protests? If so, what are they protesting, a few bad cops? For every bad cop in America, there are a thousand good ones. Is the movement supposed to promote equality in the justice system? If so, what does that even look like? The statistics that are repeatedly used are the type of statistics that show that more blacks are convicted of crimes (especially in certain cities) than whites, and many other similar statistics. These types of statistics don't prove what they are trying to justify their actions with. What these statistics actually show the criminal justice world is that blacks COMMIT more crimes, and are therefore convicted of more crimes. The overwhelming difference in the convictions can't be completely explained by a few corrupt judges, and you won't convince people that the entire justice system is stacked against the black community because there are just too many examples of blacks coming out of the projects and becoming extremely successful just based on their character and hard work.

If the people of the BLM want results, they need a more tangible and measurable goal. Goals like reform in the schools of the at-risk communities, attractive incentives for first-generation high school or college graduates, and some way to actually motivate people to come off of welfare. Too many families of all races are passing down a learned behavior of living off of the government and supplementing income in ways not reported to the IRS.

And if their goal is to make giant changes to the criminal justice field, they can start by fighting for a formation of what police officers are asked to do. Right now they are asked to wear so many different hats that it's hard to specialize in any type of criminal justice. One police officer has to know how to handle domestic disputes, suicidal people, drunks and addicts, noise complaints, traffic stops, and a plethora of other unforeseen situations. Most police officers are required to learn all of this inside a police academy that may last a year and then they are eager to join a patrol squad with little to no experience actually dealing with these situations. Police forces, especially in the major cities, need to be more focused and trained in a specific line of duty much like the military is. A member of the infantry isn't expected to know how to fly a fighter jet at any given moment and a pilot isn't called upon to disarm IED's in the field.

To sum up my response, in order for the BLM movement to make the change they desire, they need a clear and achievable direction with positive leadership to communicate this direction and motivate the people to use positive means to make those goals realized. Also, the police community needs to understand that, while the BLM movement has taken a turn towards violent protests in order to try and get their point across, the people of the BLM movement still have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. This divide will not be cured by one side or the other, but by both sides, equally trying their hardest to acknowledge the value and importance of the other. By congratulating each other for the things that are done well and empathizing with each other when they have disagreements, these two very important groups of people will find their place in society in a way that both of them can feel like a positive, respected, and valued contributor to our country.

Mark said...

Posted on July 12, 2016 @ 12:58 PM -
Yes Donald, it sounds like maybe you have read a little of the BLM website. There is no clear direction and the leadership is so fringe in their beliefs, they will struggle to get a willing ear. Our Church is working to join with a black church in another town just to meet and fellowship. (our city is less than 1% black). I think the best thing we have to offer each other is the unity that exists in Jesus Christ. I don't know what all good it will do, but at least its something. Anything. I am further dismayed that our Churches are so segregated as well (it seems by choice). Maybe we can do something about that.

Donald said...

Posted on July 11, 2016 @ 10:46 PM -
I like that you identified a deeper issue than just civil rights. The problem with a lot of the BLM arguments that you hear from people is that they're trying to argue something that a large part of the country already considers to be resolved. Blacks can vote. Slavery has ended. There are plenty of policies the country has put forth to try and help advance the standing of minorities. To try and tell people that the government needs to do more to help them makes it sound like they're just begging for a handout instead of an equal chance.

The problem with the BLM movement isn't even the movement itself. The problem is the lack of leadership within the movement, specifically leadership that will take the movement in a clear direction. Is it a movement of protests? If so, what are they protesting, a few bad cops? For every bad cop in America, there are a thousand good ones. Is the movement supposed to promote equality in the justice system? If so, what does that even look like? The statistics that are repeatedly used are the type of statistics that show that more blacks are convicted of crimes (especially in certain cities) than whites, and many other similar statistics. These types of statistics don't prove what they are trying to justify their actions with. What these statistics actually show the criminal justice world is that blacks COMMIT more crimes, and are therefore convicted of more crimes. The overwhelming difference in the convictions can't be completely explained by a few corrupt judges, and you won't convince people that the entire justice system is stacked against the black community because there are just too many examples of blacks coming out of the projects and becoming extremely successful just based on their character and hard work.

If the people of the BLM want results, they need a more tangible and measurable goal. Goals like reform in the schools of the at-risk communities, attractive incentives for first-generation high school or college graduates, and some way to actually motivate people to come off of welfare. Too many families of all races are passing down a learned behavior of living off of the government and supplementing income in ways not reported to the IRS.

And if their goal is to make giant changes to the criminal justice field, they can start by fighting for a formation of what police officers are asked to do. Right now they are asked to wear so many different hats that it's hard to specialize in any type of criminal justice. One police officer has to know how to handle domestic disputes, suicidal people, drunks and addicts, noise complaints, traffic stops, and a plethora of other unforeseen situations. Most police officers are required to learn all of this inside a police academy that may last a year and then they are eager to join a patrol squad with little to no experience actually dealing with these situations. Police forces, especially in the major cities, need to be more focused and trained in a specific line of duty much like the military is. A member of the infantry isn't expected to know how to fly a fighter jet at any given moment and a pilot isn't called upon to disarm IED's in the field.

To sum up my response, in order for the BLM movement to make the change they desire, they need a clear and achievable direction with positive leadership to communicate this direction and motivate the people to use positive means to make those goals realized. Also, the police community needs to understand that, while the BLM movement has taken a turn towards violent protests in order to try and get their point across, the people of the BLM movement still have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. This divide will not be cured by one side or the other, but by both sides, equally trying their hardest to acknowledge the value and importance of the other. By congratulating each other for the things that are done well and empathizing with each other when they have disagreements, these two very important groups of people will find their place in society in a way that both of them can feel like a positive, respected, and valued contributor to our country.

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