The bookends to this week are the Declaration of Independence and the Parable of the Good Samaritan. On Monday we celebrated a document that announces, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." On Sunday many churches will hear the gospel text Luke 10:25-37 in which Jesus declares all to be a neighbor deserving of love and mercy. What has happened in between those two days this week has spit in the faces of both ideas.
Alton Sterling was killed by police officers in Baton Rogue, LA. He was selling CDs. He was subdued and on the ground when he was killed. Philando Castile was killed not long after in St. Paul, MN. He was pulled for having a busted tail light. Both men were African-American.
All men and women are created equal. That's something we like to believe as a country. We believe it is foundational to who we are. But we don't like to face the fact that equality is stripped from some the moment that they take a breath because of the color of their skin.
All men and women are our neighbors. That is a central ethical tenet of the Christian faith. If my neighbor was killed, would I rush to judgment about what that neighbor was doing? Would I insist to those that mourn that other people have died too and thus all lives matter? Would I turn a blind eye and contort scenarios because the reality makes me uncomfortable? Would I let it keep happening?
I don't have answers. I am frustrated by this crap happening again and again. I pray. I say my Kyrie Eleisons. I try to listen to my African-American brothers and sisters and tune out those that try to explain it away. I realize that I am privelged because I am Caucasian and have benefited from a broken social system. I do not have to fear for my sons' lives the same way that an African-American parent does.
I am demoralized by these tragedies in light of this week and what our country, our churches say we believe. All men and women are created equal by God. All men and women are my neighbors. But our society doesn't let them stay that way.