By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
One thing I have learned after working on newspapers for 30-plus years is that you have to be flexible. Quite frankly, this column was not planned, but the events of Thursday, July 7, caused me to completely change the plans that had been made for this issue. We had to delay the printed publication of some stories (some have appeared or will appear on the website at baptistandreflector.org).
Five Dallas police officers and seven others were wounded last week after they were ambushed while trying to protect people who were protesting police brutality under the umbrella of “Black Lives Matter.” Those marching were protesting the deaths of two black males (one in Minnesota and one in Louisiana) who were killed recently by police officers. Details are just beginning to surface about the attack that was apparently the plan of a single sniper.
Let me be perfectly clear. Black lives do matter. But so do white (Anglo) lives, Hispanic lives, etc., name the nationality. Unfortunately, when some leaders seemingly tout one race over another, it gives the impression (whether intended or not) that some lives do not matter. They all matter.
What’s more, the lives of police officers and public servants matter. Some national leaders and media have cast police officers in a negative light. They have become villains. And, now police officers are paying the price with their lives.
Are there some police officers who disgrace their badges? Sure, but they are in a very small minority compared to the thousands upon thousands of men and women who put on their uniform day after day and risk their lives to keep you and me safe.
Police officers (and other public servants) are often poorly compensated and underappreciated. They leave their families each day, not knowing if they will return home safely or not. Think of the stress that places on not only the officers, but also on their spouses and children.
Our nation has to get over this mentality that police officers are out to intentionally kill minorities. That is absolutely false. Statistics reveal that police officers kill more white people annually than any other ethnic group. When a non-Anglo person is killed by police (white or black) it makes national headlines. When a white person is killed in the same circumstance, it’s a blip on the radar. Police officers have to act instantly in times of extreme stress. They don’t have time to stop and consider color.
ALL lives matter to God and they need to matter to us.
On Friday (July 8), a song we used to sing in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School when I was a kid played over and over in my mind: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
That chorus of the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” should be sung in every church in our nation in the months to come. Racial tensions will never be healed in our nation until we come to the conclusion that ALL lives matter — red, yellow, black, and white.
Also, pray more than ever before for our police officers. They are under attack and under more scrutiny today than ever before in our history. Pray that what happened in Dallas last week will not be repeated in other cities across our nation.
When you see a police officer, thank him or her for their service. If appropriate, buy them a meal or a cup of coffee. They need to know that most Americans appreciate the sacrifice and risks they take to keep us safe.
What happened last week was an act of terrorism. No, it wasn’t terrorism in the sense of how we normally define the word, but it was terrorism nonetheless. Last week On Mission Today, an online publication jointly produced by the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, shared an article on “Six Ways to Pray During Times of Terror.” Read it and follow the six suggestions.
Most importantly, remember that God is still in control in our nation that is seemingly out of control. Pray for our country and leaders as never before. Pray that everyone in our nation will come to the realization that all lives matter to God. “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight.”