How can the nation escape headlines such as these? “Hundreds Mourn Officer Killed in Dallas Police Shooting”. “Police Shoot Man in Baton Rouge”. “Atlanta Police Officer Charged With Murder In The Shooting Of Unarmed Black Man”. “Baton Rouge: Three US police officers shot dead”.
Stop! Just stop killing. “Do not murder.” Life matters. Yours. Others. The unborn (Ex 21:22). “Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Although this is a Christian text, the truth of the Golden Rule is not hard to find in most major religions of the world. Blacks kill whites and whites kill blacks. Civilians kill cops and the police kill civilians. Muslims kill those of other faiths and other faiths kill Muslims. It must stop.
Do not be quick to rush judgment. There were six Levitical cities of refuge a person who accidentally killed someone or accused of murder could flee to prior to standing trial. It takes time to calm emotions and discover facts. Find a safe place to become Holy Spirit centered.
Forgive. Forgiveness does not overlook wrongdoing. It does not sweep it under the rug or say it is okay. Forgiveness is an act of the will. It chooses to extend mercy rather than revenge or justice. Forgiveness acknowledges the wrong and its pain then moves forward in strength, not weakness, to put the wrong in the past. It refuses to remain shackled by bitterness and looking behind. Forgiveness enables a new day to begin even as it acknowledges the possibility that the past could repeat itself.
What might the ending of Romeo and Juliet look like if Shakespeare had woven forgiveness into his story? Could the Hatfield and McCoy feud have been diffused with a liberal dose of forgiveness? Why should the past mar the future when forgiveness enables a fresh start?
Listen and learn. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Listening to those you disagree with does not mean you must agree or inevitably will cause you to change your position. However, listening may help you gain a deeper context, appreciate the path and struggles others have walked, and understand them, their beliefs and actions better. How could it not help both sides live together more amicably? Don’t judge another until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
The Old Testament phrase “an eye for an eye” is widely misunderstood. It is often seen as permitting, even encouraging, vicious retribution. In reality, it forbids endless mindless revenge by requiring proportionate retribution. You cannot take a person’s life that stole from you. Jesus, while not directly rewriting civil law, does not permit personal retaliation at all among his followers. Civil law and justice is not erased. Personal hatred is and mercy toward the guilty is encouraged just as Jesus followers have received mercy from God because “No one is righteous, no not one”.
Life is not all about my wants and beliefs. Nor is it all about yours. Life is about all of us. The killing must stop for all our sakes. There is a way of escape. It is a train that needs us all aboard.