By Joel Hess –
This past Sunday players of the St. Louis Rams football team entered the field displaying the ‘hands up don’t shoot’ pose. This motion has become a symbol of the protest against the Ferguson police department and the shooting death of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in August. Naturally, the St. Louis police officers association did not approve. They released a statement that included these words; “Now that the evidence is in and Officer Wilson’s account has been verified by physical and ballistic evidence as well as eye-witness testimony, which led the grand jury to conclude that no probable cause existed that Wilson engaged in any wrongdoing, it is unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over-and-over again.”
Perpetuating a narrative that has been disproven over-and-over again!
I love this statement. Now to be sure, one can find plenty of evidence that suggests there are racist cops or cops too quick to resort to violence. Not in this case, though. But evidence and eye witnesses do not matter! Against all evidence people are perpetuating a Joseph Smith-like myth regarding Michael Brown. This is becoming a problem in America; perpetuating narratives that have been disproven over and over again. We do this all the time.
The hot button social issues of the day such as same sex marriage, gender re-assignment, or abortion are all based on narratives that have been disproven over and over again. But that doesn’t matter because we want to do want we desire to do! And you can’t tell me how to feel. Even if it is irrational, you can’t tell me I don’t feel this way. It is becoming impossible to have conversations in this country about difficult issues because facts and evidence don’t matter! Logic doesn’t matter. Worse, we no longer enjoy a common ground of principles, shared stories, or religion.
As I sit here far away from Ferguson in a town that has no racial tensions (well except for the hot spat of ’58 between the Norwegians and Fins), I would like to conclude that people are just plain stupid. But that would be wrong and insensitive. There is more to it. Many of the good people of Ferguson deserve more credit than that. They are not alone in their distrust of someone else telling them something is true. We all stick with narratives that have been proven untrue because we have learned to distrust everyone, even those who tell us facts! Such is the case in Ferguson. So while I disprove and am amazed as to how people can perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven, I understand that if you believe you have been lied to many times before you may not trust the jury, the judge, etc.
This distrust of facts has become an American epidemic. After all, we all frequently perpetuate narratives that have been clearly disproven. Narratives that tell us mankind is good. Yeah right!? We might believe self-invented narratives we tell ourselves like, “you are just a victim, you are really a good person” even though the evidence clearly condemns us as guilty. Or perhaps some are haunted by a narrative that concludes, “I am a monster, a freak, no one would understand me, let alone want me.” What narrative have you been perpetuating about yourself?
This is Satan’s goal; to cause confusion, fear, and distrust. He is the great perpetuator of narratives that are untrue! Remember Eden? It was the first Ferguson. “God wants to keep you down!” “God doesn’t really love you.” “You can do better than this!” “Did God really say?” Yeats had it right as he observed in 1919 the chaos that concluded the irrational ‘great war’. He hadn’t seen nothing yet!
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
We are living in confused times more than ever with less and less that unites us. We are unable to trust one another, let alone authorities. Ferguson is just a symptom of the chaos. Things are falling apart.
But don’t be surprised. It’s ok. Repent. Love your neighbor. Visit the confused, distraught and suffering. Hang on to Jesus’ promises and eat and drink them in His holy supper. Amidst all the squabbling, there is one narrative that has not been disproven, nor forgotten, stalled or changed. There continues one narrative that is true whether it is believed or bought into or not. It marches forward without care of opinion polls or people’s feelings. It brings people to their knees, yet lifts them up again!
Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again! Through Him all things were made, and to Him all things shall return. And we will be one at His and our Revelation. Maranatha!