The news headlines say the grand jury in Ferguson has reached a decision. A city stands braced for protests. The expectation is violence will again rock the small Missouri town, a town which once stood unknown in the heartland of America and has become the focal point of the race conflict that still pulses through this land.
The only facts that are agreed upon are these:
1. Michael Brown, an African-American teen, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.
2. Michael Brown was unarmed.
Beyond these two statements, there is little that has been agreed upon in the court of public opinion. Differing accounts of the events have forged a wedge that originates in the small Midwest town and reaches from shore to shining shore.
Honestly, I haven’t followed the news of this case carefully, nor have I examined the facts. I certainly don’t sit on the grand jury, the only individuals that have (hopefully) been presented the comprehensive facts upon which to draw a conclusion about any possible indictment of Darren Wilson. I simply don’t have enough information to draw any conclusions, nor would it be prudent to express an opinion based on media bites.
Here’s what I do know: I know that children come into this world without hate in their hearts. They do not see the color of another’s skin before they see another human being. I know that children want and deserve to live in a world filled with peace. And, I know there is not now nor has there ever been a parent that dreams of the day their child will experience violence, either close up or from afar.
Here’s what else I know: Children are taught the color of skin makes someone different, just as they can be taught the color of our skin is determined by melanin. They are taught hate, just as they can be taught love. They are taught intolerance, just as they can be taught acceptance. They are taught violence through example, just as they can be taught peaceful resolution. They are taught to judge, just as they can be taught to tolerate. And, children who learn to judge become adults who hate.
Sure, some might say it’s easy for me to preach when I haven’t had my child stopped at a store based on the color of his/her skin. I know I cannot, regardless of how hard I try, possibly truly understand what the world looks like through the eyes of someone who has been discriminated against based on their race or their religion. The small amount of discrimination I have faced as a woman doesn’t possibly cast the smallest flicker of a shadow compared to what others have faced. I am not naïve, but I am a mother, and like all mothers I want my children to know peace in this world, not a world filled with hate because someone is the wrong color or religion or from the wrong neighborhood. And, as a mother, I can choose to teach love and continue to pray my children and my children’s children will live in a world where differences are merely differences, not determinants.
Tonight, my prayers are with and for the people of Ferguson, this country, and our world.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
~Seymour Miller & Jill Jackson, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” 1955