Black Lives Won’t Matter

I may lose some friends for posting this and I am sure I will make some people mad. But the bottom line is this. Black lives won’t matter to them, until they really matter to us. Once I was arrested for stealing my own car. I explained to the police officer that it was indeed my car. He asserted to the contrary that the car had been reported as stolen. I stated how can that be? It is my car. He ignored me, handcuffed me and took me to jail.

This was the year 1987. I had just returned from my 2nd short-term Christian missionary outreach to Africa.

That morning I had just drop my children off at school and completed rounds at 2 hospitals. The license plates had been tampered with on my car and I was emerging from the office with the appropriate documents in hand to reapply. That’s when the officer approached.

I kept my cool. I showed him the documents in my hand. He ignored me. He had an agenda that it was best I complied with for the sake of my life.

I called out to a young black man who happen to be walking by and gave him my wife’s phone number. “Please call my wife and tell her I am being taken to the police station!” He did so. And within 30 minutes my wife was there to free me from this very unpleasant dilemma. This was only one of a series of similar encounters with the police I have had growing up. None of them proved fatal. All but one was unnecessary and unnerving.

I understand completely the furor, indeed righteous anger associated with the openly brazen acts of murder of black citizens of this country when those acts are committed by those responsible for protecting the citizens. I agree with Colin Kaepernick, as I agreed with the late, great Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos the Olympians of 1968 who all stood in protest against racism and oppression in the United States. I understand the problem because I have lived it and continue to live it.

However, there comes a time when I must ask my own community to take in account of how much our lives matter to us. I am fully aware that this will not be accepted by many of my friends, colleagues, cohorts and family. But it must be said. Every time a black man, woman or child dies in a drive-by shooting, gangster violence, drug related activity that life matters. Every time a baby is pulled from the uterus of a mother either by sucking, dismemberment, injection of lethal substances or scraping the walls of the womb that life matters.

Every time a mother buries her son or daughter who has been caught up either by accident or chance in a violent episode in our community that life should matter.

Murdering black men and women in the streets by those who are entrusted to protect is without excuse. But their excesses will continue until we make it a point to protest vehemently, argue unceasingly and protect our own from our own. Black lives won’t matter to anyone unless they matter to us.

Leadership Leads

  • Leadership is not about getting my way but showing the way.
  • Leadership compels me to demand more of myself than I expect of others.
  • Leadership requires I affirm and assure the weakest amongst as I do the strongest amongst us.
  • Leadership demands that I both kneel to serve and stand to defend the weak.
  • Leadership is standing before the Commander without obscuring His presence from followers.
  • Leadership is content with hearing ‘well done’ from the Commander as a reward.
  • Leadership finds joy by helping others find peace

Explain and Expunge

I would like the conversation about statues to have an explain and expunge option. That is, rather than tear down a statue or deface it, have a plaque to explain the real history behind it. This would allow the statue to remain in place, without completely expunging it from the historical record. This would allow those who take pride in it to get a real sense of the history associated with it without antagonizing those who venerate the historical figure.

Let’s explain history, not expunge it.

We Decide Your Life’s Worth

It was purely for pleasure
Conception accidental
Their personal choice
This life’s not essential

We declared him as guilty
And worthy of death
He is worthless and filthy
We’ll choose his last breath

She is old and decrepit
Just look at her drool
We have no choice but
To kill the old fool

The deformed and infirmed
The unborn and the weak
Your worth, we confirmed
Hear us as we speak

We decide who can live
We decide who will die
Mercy is ours to give
By the laws we apply

From the time of conception
Till your last day on earth
Men will practice deception
To determine your worth

Pro-life or pro-death
Mercy kill, euthanize
We determine last brea

Mr. President Tear Down These Statue

Dear Mr. President;

Much furor has mounted and persisted over the tearing down of statues. All of these statues are venerated by somebody, somewhere. I personally believe that many of these should have been torn down long ago. It is impossible to convince everyone of the rationale of tearing down one statute versus another. Suffice it to say, there are some statues that no one in this country that should be removed and actually should have never been put in place. If you tear down these statues, Mr. President, you will literally be remembered as a great leader. Here is my list of things that must go now! These definitions are from sources I found online. It makes it easy for me to understand it this way.

1) Redlining In the United States, redlining is the systematic denial of various services by federal government agencies, local governments as well as the private sector either directly or through the selective raising of prices. Neighborhoods with high proportion of minority residents are more likely to be redlined than other neighborhoods with similar household incomes, housing age and type, and other determinants of risk, but different racial composition. While the best known examples of redlining have involved denial of financial services such as banking or health care (see also Race and health) or even supermarkets have been denied to residents. In the case of retail businesses like supermarkets, purposely locating stores impractically far away from targeted residents results in a redlining effect.

2) Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries, which is most commonly used in first-past-the-post electoral systems. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: “cracking” (i.e. diluting the voting power of the opposing party’s supporters across many districts) and “packing” (concentrating the opposing party’s voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts). A third tactic, shown in the top-left diagram in the graphic, is homogenization of all districts (essentially a form of cracking where the majority party uses its superior numbers to guarantee the minority party never attains a majority in any district)

3) Racial Profiling is the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of assumed characteristics or behavior of a racial or ethnic group, rather than on individual suspicion.Racial profiling, however, is not limited only to an individual’s ethnicity or race, but can also be based on the individual’s religion, or national origin. In European countries, the term “ethnic profiling” is also used instead of racial profiling.

If you could be instrumental in demanding these statutes be removed, the others won’t really matter. In fact, I believe the furor would diminish as people come to understand that we can’t erase history, but we don’t have to continue to live in the evil shadow it casts over our present by these intangible yet palpable statues.

To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan
“Mr. President, tear down these statues.

Sincerely,

Michael Johnson

Mind Your Own Business

Sometimes I just want to tell God to mind His own business. You know what I mean. Just the other day, I had the opportunity to double up my reimbursement for some work I had done online. It was work that was required for the job. It was work that I actually did at the worksite. It was work that I had completed at the worksite. However, there was a way that I could also bill it for having done it at home and get more money for this small deception. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me. It is really inconvenient when He does that. He reminded me that this was cheating. I told Him that, ‘of course it is, but who is to know, except You and I!’

A little later I was scrolling through some news on an internet website and some pictures of scantily clad women appeared on my screen. My scrolling came to a slow roll, more like a creepy crawl. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. Yes! He did it again. .’ Michael, you realize these pictures are a lure to lust don’t you? These images are on a flat screen of two dimensions, airbrushed and photo shopped, smaller than life and don’t breathe.’ I answered back, ‘don’t you have somewhere to be, or someone else to bother?’

As the day went on, I heard some employees talking bad about a colleague. I was unfamiliar with the one about whom they spoke, but that did not stop me from drawing close to hear the gossip. I have learned that gossip doesn’t have to be true to make it good and worth sharing! Can you believe the Holy Spirit showed up once again? This is getting rather repetitive. ‘What now, HS? What did I do wrong now?’ He answered as only the Paraclete can (look that word up). ‘Michael, my child, I called you to be an example of integrity, not a purveyor of rumor. Remember that people who talk to you about others will talk to others about you.’

This was making for a really long day. If the Comforter shows up once more, I am going to lose it, I said to myself. Just as the words were forming in my mind a situation arose that I had to deal with. A patient who needed to share that she had falsely claimed that she was injured on duty at work, when she was actually had fallen down the steps as she left her boyfriends house and she did not want her husband to know about it. She wanted me to help her file for workmen’s compensation and keep the medical record silent on the actual details of the site of injury so that her husband wouldn’t find out. This is what they call a ‘hat-trick’ in hockey. Three goals in one game!

I was familiar with this as I had already been tempted to cheat, engage in lust and engaging in lurid secrets and rumors. That is when the Holy Spirit spoke again. This time, He was a bit more insistent.

‘My child, I actually kept you from diving deeper into those temptations because I knew you would encounter this woman before the end of your shift. If you had become enmeshed in those things, you would not be able to speak with integrity to the woman in front of you. I need you, my son, to speak truth in a non-judgmental way to this woman. I need you to address her injuries and let her know that you won’t lie to her and you can’t lie for her. Keep it simple son.’ This actually made the clinical encounter a lot easier as I could be objective, non-judgmental and actually care for her injuries. She accepted my refusal to lie for her without protesting.

Whenever you are tempted to tell God to MYOB that is, Mind Your Own Business, remember, His business is in making you like His Son. He uses the Holy Spirit to accomplish this work. Listen for Him and to Him when He talks. He is never silent. He wants to use you. He must first infuse you with His holiness.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Rational Rage

Can rage be rational? Is it possible for me to react reasonably while filled with anger? Does logic kick in first when I have been assaulted or insulted? Can I have a controlled, calm response?

I don’t think so. My natural response is to fight. The odds can be overwhelmingly against me, but I will summon all of my righteous (self-righteous) indignation and give the offending party a piece of my mind. Since I am not a giant in physical stature, I use my mouth to lay waste to the person or persons causing my distress.

When someone is trying to control me, I will strike back and try to control them. When I try to control someone, I am out of control. When coupled with my distinct dislike, distrust and disrespect of someone, my rage is even more irrational.

I can only imagine how this plays out in the mind of a person who is charged with protecting the property and citizens of a community. This can be a challenge, especially when the ultimate option is the use of force and more to the point, deadly force. There is no rational decision making here. Fear, prejudice and righteous indignation overtake rationale and reason. After all, I have the right and responsibility to do whatever is necessary to bring the offending culprit under my control. Let the others judge my action later, but for now, I must bring this person under my control. It doesn’t matter what the public or personal consequences might be. Rage is the rational response, or so it seems.

And then there is the group response that follows. A people group enraged for what they know to be hundreds of years of oppression and open hostility cannot be expected to act rational in their rage. Any chance at having the upper hand, if even for an hour, a day or a week, is better than just laying down and taking another beating. The enraged are irrational. They will cause self inflicted wounds because they feel powerless to change the perpetrators. It doesn’t matter what the public or personal consequences might be. Their rage is rational, or so it seems.

The truth is, this response in rage is illogical, and yes, irresponsible. Worse yet, this response serves to justify those in power to ‘apply the screws’ even harder.

Those in power fear losing control and again, react irrationally. Their rage is peaked and they will literally call upon heaven and earth to bring things under control. God is on their side. Tell God to ignore the voice of the offended until they take a more reasoned and rational stance. God control their rage. If you don’t, we will.

Fortunately, God does not take sides. He is above picking winners and losers based upon human understanding. God’s choice is always to give grace to the humble. He does not endorse, condone, applaud or accept human rage no matter what the purpose, cause or expected endpoint from human logic. The person who lights the match is just as guilty as the one who provides the explosives, pours on the kerosene and blocks the fire trucks.

The only way to bring about the end to this perpetual cycle is to love. I have to love others more than I love myself. I have to be more willing to suffer than to cause suffering. This is a hard choice for those on the front line charged with keeping order. But for those who delegate the authority to engage the enraged, they must recognize they are under the control of powers greater than themselves and likewise can be used for less than worthy ends.

I have to be more willing to protect from harm than cause harm. This is unreasonable, irrational, not logical, but it is Christlike. There is no logic, no rationale in acting with rage.

James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord

Face to Face

I saw you in a movie
Never met face to face
I listen to your music
That’s how I know your race

I’ve seen you on the playing field
I’ve timed your speed and pace
You box and play great b-ball
That’s how I know your race

Pick up the soiled laundry
Clean my table of dirt no trace
I’ll leave a tip if you’re polite
That’s how I know your race

But when you go off message
To me you are a disgrace
Smile and say ‘you’re welcome sir’
Be a credit to your race

Threatens Us All

As long as it was only those people being threatened, it didn’t matter. As long as their civil liberties were violated, it was no big deal. But now, it is our children being threatened. It is our White House behind heavy metal gates. It is our streets patrolled by secret police.

Now it seems to matter. It threatens us all.

Be Still and Know

I know you are still working
Of this I have no doubt
But since you’re moving slow
I will have to figure this one out

The problems are tremendous
In fact, they keep on mounting
At first, just two or three
But now I gave up counting

The riots and the looting
Are a national disaster
The chaos and confusion
Displaced the truth they’re after

And the continued contagion
Of a virus no one sees
We are huddled in our homes
Afraid of horrible disease

But God is never silent
You choose not to hear his voice
The continued pain you feel
Is because you made the choice

Of anger and revenge
Hitting back with both your hands
Be still and let God work
Are the things that He command

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalms 46:10 KJV