Remember when, as a teenager, your parents went away for a weekend or, even better, an entire week? (Channeling Mel Gibson from “Braveheart” - F R E E D O M!). Finally, you were on your own or, at least, free from the parental authorities who have been, to one degree or another, hovering over your life until that point. Snacks are now eaten in the living room with a spent ice cream bowl and an empty bag of chips and crumbs left on the coffee table as you went to bed way past your typical curfew. The bed is left unmade in the morning with the socks and discarded shirt still on the floor right where you left them. Dishes are starting to pile up on the sink. You’ll get to them before they return, you remind yourself. You can do what you want and when you want—life is good.
In part, that’s how I view the recent rioting that has spread all across our country. For weeks, 3–months, most of the country has been sheltered at home / locked down. Jobs were suspended. Schools were closed. Entertainment and sports were shut down. TV and the various streaming services were your only friends as we all were told to social distance from everyone except those in our house. It’s been brutal in various ways.
There was, however, some light at the end of the tunnel as things started slowly opening up. Back to normal seemed to be in your grasp. You would get to see your friends soon; get a haircut; eat inside a restaurant, and go to church. But, the temperature in the country changed when we saw the horrific video of a black man choked for over 8–minutes then die from the knee of a white police officer. Peaceful protesters wanted justice. They got it as the 4–officers were fired and charged, one with second degree murder. Nonetheless, these protests turned violent fed by criminal elements who looted stores and burned down buildings, as police, who were told to stand–down, watched. And then it spread nationwide and even to some other countries almost like the pandemic.
Racial justice is what they are calling for, but one is hard–pressed to see how that can be with the looting, burning, and attacks on law enforcement (several police officers have been killed, many injured). The damage being done to the inner city, where most of the culprits dwell, may be felt for decades. Stores, shops and businesses are out–of–business and may never come back. There’s freedom in scoring a large screen TV in the looting, a grocery cart full of food, boxes of tennis shoes, or bags of drugs, but what happens in months to come when those stores are no longer in neighborhoods. It’s like cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.
All of this is reminiscent of the riots after Martin Luther King was shot by an assassin’s bullet in the 1960s. It was labeled the worse social upheaval since the Civil War. What has happened now rivals and perhaps surpasses that.
These formerly locked down folks have almost carte blanche freedom to do what they want, but they’re hurting themselves and destroying the dreams and investments of their neighbors who built the mom and pop shops and stores.
The cat is out of the bag and the questions remain — how do we put it back, ending the violence and preventing it from happening again?
I’ll let the social pundits give their theories. I have my own, but I’m a churchman. And this demonstrates why God placed parents over children and governments over the citizenry. It’s not for nothing that they wield the sword, so to speak (Rom. 13:1–7). They are there to keep law and order. They are the bookends that keep society from falling over. They are the rails on which the train wheels glide. Move them and disaster strikes.
We are instructed to pray for and honor government officials and the laws they enact (1 Tim. 2:1f). Fortunately, in our country we have the freedom to express our opposition to the rules and work to change them. But we don’t do it by tearing down the very things that our freedom allowed us to create.
I’m praying that law and order will be restored. That criminals will be punished. That insurance companies will bailout the businesses that have been ruined. And, more importantly, that this unrest will cause a revival in our country. Perhaps God is allowing this to happen to call us back to Him . . . since apparently the pandemic didn’t do that.
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