We will have change when ALL Americans come to realize this is a problem and black lives DO matter. Jeh Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security
Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. Jesus, from Matthew 5
God of mercy and wisdom, help us surrender our pride and humbly receive advice and direction from those we have wounded and those who know the path we all must walk to healing. Amen
This morning, Fareed Zakaria discussed the problem of racial injustice with the former secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. Zakaria asked Johnson, What advice would you give us at this critical moment?
Jeh Johnson began with a legendary leadership story. In March of 1965 in the wake of Bloody Sunday, President Lyndon B. Johnson, a white southerner, went before a joint session of Congress and proclaimed: We shall overcome.
When LBJ embraced the words of the Civil Rights Movement his influence became a factor in turning the tide for civil rights legislation.
Jeh Johnson proposes that the most powerful thing anyone can do today is embrace the grievance of black America and use our respective influence to call others to join in the embrace. If parents, pastors and presidents today went to the podium and embraced the grievance then many more would see and believe that black lives really do matter.
Jeh Johnson said, “A starting point for leadership is to acknowledge the grievance and the validity of the grievance. There are more specific solutions, but it starts with leaders embracing the grievance and teaching others to do the same.”
Johnson’s advice aligns with Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: When you have harmed your neighbor, embrace your neighbor’s grievance early in the ordeal– before the moment of judgment, sentencing and no return.
When asked about how he feels personally about racial injustice in America, Johnson suggested a better question. How does America feel? How does the soccer mom in Oklahoma feel? How does the church elder in California feel? How does your state representative feel? How does our superintendent of schools feel? How do the Rotarians feel? How does the City Council feel? How do your friends feel?
How do you personally feel about the way our black siblings are treated in the streets, the courts, the classroom, the prisons and on the corporate ladder?
As Johnson notes: Minneapolis is not a black problem. It is an American problem. Equality before the law is as American as the flag. We will have change when ALL Americans come to realize this is a problem and black lives DO matter.
I am grateful for the community of Christ followers that I call friends and family. I know how you would answer the questions posed by Jeh Johnson. Please join me in prayerfully considering our answers; and may our actions align until together we turn the tide.
God bless you,