As a people, Americans are trying to come to grips with racism. But it can never happen through the means we see on display on TV each night.
The riots prove we have misunderstood the problem. The bigger problem. The bigger problem is the disregard, or disrespecting of, human life.
Racism is the disparaging of another person based on their race. But it is no less evil to disrespect someone based upon their employment or their age or opinions or any other reason. People are valuable and equal, no matter how they fit into any category. Race is one of many categories that can be used to falsely rank people, and all such rankings are evil. All of them are equally evil.
When people take to the streets to call attention to the problem of racism, I can agree with both their actions and their motives. But when they feel permission, or necessity, to harm people of any category as a part of their public protest, they are perpetuating the bigger problem. Destruction of property always harms someone, quite often the people the protest claims to be trying to help. Acts of violence multiply the larger problem of human disregard.
George Floyd was killed by a man who had complete disregard for George Floyd’s life. It would be just as big of a tragedy if it had been a white man killed, or if George Floyd had been killed by another black man. I value his life, not because of what race he was, but rather because of his humanity. What makes me angry is the apparent indifference of those who did it.
Actions which try to solve this disregard for George Floyd’s human life, by damaging other people’s lives, are equally evil with the actions of his murders. Actions which try to solve racism through violence or destruction, are also immoral and therefore work against the desired resolution.
So what are we to do?
First recognize the spiritual nature of the issue. Our equal value as persons comes from God who created us. Our tendency toward degrading others comes from our sinfulness. The problem is so deep it goes back to our purposes for existing and humanities initial history. Looking only at the last few centuries will trivialize and miss the real root of the issue.
Second see our own role in it and take responsibility for ourselves and our own systems. We cannot fix others; we can only fix ourselves. Others will never listen to us trying to fix their problems, when we obviously have the same problems and are not addressing them. However, we can work towards a culture or environment where they are empowered to, and will want to, fix themselves.
We need to change culture. But the reason culture is broken is that we are broken by our sin. Any other starting place guarantees we will continue to be trapped in the existing culture. Instead of moving toward treating all people equally we will merely seek to rebalance who is favored in society. Any system that tries to some up by pulling others up will ultimately add to the problem.