Injustice of any kind is evil. Injustice against the vulnerable and special-needs people is despicable. The four African-Americans that terrorized and beat a white, special-needs man in Chicago is repulsive. How should we respond to this horrific ordeal?
Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville, Ill., and Tesfaye Cooper, 18, Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, all of Chicago, face charges. They are accused of and charged with aggravated kidnapping, robbery, residential burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Moreover, as of Thursday, the local authorities had charged all with hate crimes.
As my family and I discussed this story last night, it shook my daughter. She could not fathom how someone could do such abhorrent, deplorable, and fulsome things to another human being. Here are a few observations I shared with her last night:
Sin and evil are much darker than we can ever know.
Theologians call Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden “The Fall.” The Fall is the departure by creation, including human beings, from the patterns and standards set for it by God. Creation now exists at a lower level of integrity and fulfillment than that which God originally intended for it.
The truth is, the human heart is dark and wicked. It explodes with all kind of hate crimes – whites against blacks, blacks against whites, husbands against wives, wives against husbands, parents against children and children against parents. We cannot know how bad the human heart really is (Jeremiah 17:9). The human heart is capable of doing extraordinary good, and it has the capacity of doing evil that cannot be quantified.
Paradoxically, though, the low ebb of depravity represented by biblical stories of violence is also the climax of the Bible’s story of redemption. The violence of the cross is the pivot point of redemption. The suffering servant suffered unfair violence for the sake of saving sinful humanity.
Respond with disgust and outrage over injustice and evil.
We normalize violence when we do not respond with disgust, anger, and outrage. Violence and evil should not be normal in God’s world. We should hate and renounce all violence in our communities because God hates violence (Psalm 11:5; Jeremiah 22:3).
We must not leave any room in our language or action to justify any violence in our community, whether it’s violence against black people or white people. When we denounce and renounce violence against humanity, we are, at a minimum, recognizing all people as image-bearers.
Therefore, I denounce and renounce the terrorizing brutality against the white young man in Chicago. I denounce and renounce a White football player raping a black, disabled team-mate. The difference is the White football player was not charged with sexual assault or a hate crime and did not go to prison. Therefore, we should have just as much outrage and disgust over this case as the one in Chicago. Both cases are evil and repulsive. We should denounce and renounce evil and injustice wherever we find it.
Yes, we must respond with disgust and outrage over injustice and evil in our world. But, in order to deal with evil in the world, we must come a little closer to home. It continues with punishing and condemning injustice no matter where we find it. Let’s continue to lend our voices to speak out against great injustices and give our lives to fight against them. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are duty-bound to usher in peace in every area of our world.
Cry out to God
Our world is full of rage and volatility. It seems every time we turn on the news or turn to social media stories of violence meet us. This burden is heavier than any other weight I have carried. The chaotic turbulence sickens me, troubles me, saddens me, and makes me feel helpless. It causes me to cry out to God like Habakkuk:
How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4
Do more than cry and talk
We cannot sit back and do nothing. Thus, we have a responsibility to confront violence when and where we see it and rescue all people trapped in a violent world. This case reminds us that we have responsibilities towards those with disabilities. God wants us to treat them with respect (Leviticus 19:14), to not take advantage of them (Deuteronomy 27:18), and to provide help for them (Job 29:15; Proverbs 31:8; Luke 14:13-14).
As a result of this story, my daughter is doubling down on her desire to be a link at her school. Links are individuals who assist special-needs kids in their high school. They walk them to class, help them with homework and spend time with them outside of class. Serving special needs kids in her school is Mikayla’s small but significant contribution of bringing peace to a violent world.
In his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. sums up what we should all hold to be true:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
We are a mosaic of humanity – African, Europeans, Asian, Latino, Middle Easterners. We cannot escape this reality: we are connected to one another. Let’s start acting like we are a network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny.
How did you respond to the horrific story?
What will your contribution be to quelling violence and injustice in our world?