I am burdened by the unrest in Ferguson, MO, on the northern end of the St. Louis metro area. Since Saturday, tensions have been running high after a Ferguson police officer shot an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown. Tensions have been running high. In addition to peaceful protests and calls for justice, there has been rioting, looting, and stand-offs with local police.
There's an old saying, "Never waste a good crisis." There is nothing good about this crisis, but we dare not let it pass without learning from it. This demands our attention and understanding. Mass outbursts of anger in the streets don't happen overnight. Behind the angry displays are deep roots of fear and desperation.
For decades, parts of our city have lived in chronic poverty and crime. These communities have been isolated and oppressed. Children grow up in cycles of desperation and frustration. Their worldview is painted by their segregation, transient living situations, broken educational systems, and lack of basic needs. While violence cannot be justified, the emotion that has come from this event reveals serious and complex societal ills. Poverty, joblessness, racism, segregation.
In all of this, we must not forget that a young man has died and a family is grieving. We dare not diminish the value of a life. Many seek to profit from tragedy, by looting or by politicking. We will not dismiss the fact that tragedy has most certainly occurred.
Please join me in prayer for peace, reconciliation, and long-term change in our communities. Also, I have some members of my church who are police officers called to work 12 hour shifts in Ferguson. We lift our prayers with weak and feeble hands, and place them in the mighty and merciful hands of God.