Challenges of the heart

The NBA is likely going to allow players to replace their names on the back of their jerseys with a statement on social justice. Look for other major sports leagues to do the same. This may include the names of those who have been recently killed by police or vigilantes—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. The national anthem during sporting events will not look the same this year either. Athletes will be taking a knee during the anthem. Already, the National Women’s Soccer League opened their Challenge Cup tournament Saturday by kneeling during the anthem and wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts. This is definitely going to challenge sports fans who do not want to see these kinds of protests.

Players for the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage Women’s soccer teams issued a joint statement before their soccer game: “We took a knee today to protest racial injustice, police brutality and systemic racism against Black people and people of color in America. We love our country and we have taken this opportunity to hold it to a higher standard. It is our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms this nation was founded upon are extended to everyone.” Statements like these will become commonplace throughout the sports seasons. Athletes will continue using their platform to draw attention to what they see as the need for change. There will be no escaping the reminder of these deaths as evidence of systemic racism.

Part of the challenge is that there is no real definition of what success looks like. There are some things in the policy area that will be changed—such as those mentioned in President Trump’s executive order on Safe Policing. The executive order addresses policies and training regarding use–of-force and de-escalation techniques; early warning systems that help to identify officers who may require intervention; and best practices regarding community engagement. A database also will be created to track officers who have been fired, have criminal convictions for on-duty conduct, and/or civil judgments for improper use of force. These are changes on which most reasonable people can agree. There will be more to come.

A big part of the problem, however, is that Marxist organizations like Antifa and the actual organization registered as Black Lives Matter hijack issues that they believe gives them license to burn buildings, destroy businesses, overthrow police precincts, tear down memorials and other unacceptable acts that will likely turn well-intended people against any reform. Their goal is to deconstruct American society using any means possible. These are all matters of the heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” We can see the evil issues arising out of the hearts of the malevolent. We can also see sincerity and empathy in well-intended hearts. Let us discern with pure hearts as directed by the Lord for as he said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

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Bill Wilson