Like you, my heart broke as I heard about the New Zealand mass shooting of Muslims. It is unfathomable to me that a person could be so full of fear, superiority and hate that he’d deliberately execute people for any reason, much less in the name of an ideological belief or race. But we keep seeing this happening more and more. Not everyone values and holds human life sacred.
During the last few years there has been a resurgence of hate groups and white supremacy factions. Specifically, in the U.S. there was a 7% increase in 2018 over 2017 (https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/report-number-of-hate-groups-down-in-indiana). Presently, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 24 registered hate groups in Indiana (https://www.splcenter.org/states/indiana). Realistically, there are probably more hate groups, as some will not publicize their activities. The number of white nationalist groups nationwide surged 50% in the last year. During this same period, the number of anti-Muslim, Black Nationalist, and neo Nazi groups in Indiana increased.
Racial and ideological tensions are pretty high right now – nationally and internationally. Acts of international terrorism have been fueling these tensions for over two decades, but they existed before terrorism. This is really an age-old conflict involving people fearing persons who look different from them or have different beliefs and practices. This fear comes straight from the pit of hell and is driven by extreme darkness. It is a symptom of the brokenness of humanity, and it leaves more brokenness in its wake.
In February 2012 #BlackLivesMatter was formed to campaign “against violence and systemic racism towards black people.” It speaks out “against police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.” It became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations after the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown (Ferguson) and Eric Garner (NYC). (Source: Wikipedia)
When I first heard the phrase #BlackLiveMatter I remember feeling a bit puzzled. I thought, “Why the emphasis on black lives? Don’t all lives matter?” Since the phrase first surfaced, I’ve read biographies of our nation’s founding leaders and presidents, as well as several books on Lincoln and the Civil War – including a biography on Jefferson Davis. One of the things that stood out to me in these books is how black people (predominately slaves brought over to America from Africa starting in the early 1600s) were regarded as less than human and inferior to Europeans (that is, whites).
I realize that culturally slaves from Africa were different from the early immigrants/settlers of the United States. (Truthfully, there were a lot of different cultural and racial groups who migrated to North America.) But Africans were fully human beings created in the image of God just like everyone else. Removing them from their native lands and forcing them into slavery belittled their humanity, emphasized cultural differences, fueled racism, and drove wedges between people groups. It also put Africans at an extreme economic disadvantage… an economic disadvantage that continues to exist today.
I’m not confused by the phrase #BlackLivesMatter now. I understand that it is used to convey that African American lives are way too often looked on as being of less value than other lives – even other minorities. If people will believe that black lives matter, then they’re also embracing that ALL lives matter.
As President Obama said, “I think that the reason that the organizers use the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter… rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities… that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.” (2015)
Black lives DO matter. That’s not an endorsement of a militant agenda. It is recognizing that God believes that ALL life is sacred and valuable… to be cherished.
Muslim lives matter, too. I don’t share their faith. But I believe they, too, are created in the image of God and are to be loved and valued as persons of worth.
Latino lives matter. Native American lives matter. Asian lives matter. Caucasian lives matter. Blue lives matter. I could list many more groups and affirm that their lives matter, too. To the God of the universe EVERY SINGLE LIFE MATTERS. He has declared that each and every one of us is created in His image, is of unlimited worth and value, and is deeply cherished by Him. And we should deeply value and cherish one another.