The book of Ecclesiastes is attributed to King Solomon, who many believe to be the wisest man to ever live. He writes in Chapter 3:1-3, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up.” In watching the response to the jury’s Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder trial, there was a curious theme. People in the streets, Black and White, Hispanic and Asian, were telling reporters that they felt justice was served, it was time to heal, and a time to build up in moving forward. Then the politicians spoke.
For the most part, the initial reactions of the local politicians in Minneapolis and Washington, DC, followed similar lines. They said people want to use these verdicts to heal and to build up. Many said that there is much work to be done with race relations, particularly in police-community relations and criminal justice reform and that it should be done within the confines of the law and in the spirit of collaboration and heartfelt communication. But the narrative seem to tear apart when the news media got to the more national politicians, delineating a contrast between, let’s say, the electorate, those elected who are close to the electorate and the elected national politicians, farther away from the electorate.
For example, socialist Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said, “This is not resolution. It’s just a moment, but this isn’t resolution, and this doesn’t end until we address the massive systemic institutional racism in the United States that accepts black people–our black brothers and sisters, our brown brothers and sisters, our native brothers and sisters–as less than human. That’s literally what it is, that we’re willing to accept violence against some communities as a necessary cost for safety.” Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), who just days earlier exhorted protesters to “get more confrontational,” said she was not celebrating, but was relieved. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said, “This has to end. We need true justice…I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies restoration.”
Citizens in the streets were stressing peace, healing, and working together to actually make a better America. Politicians, however, offered a more edgy narrative, pushing words like the tip of a sword. These “leaders” are who many people listen to and they, along with the news media, shape opinion using certain words that foment confrontation and division. Herein, is the challenge for all of us: We as a people must come to our own conclusion to accept one another, respect one another, and as Christ called us, to love one another. That’s how real change takes place. The politicians are stuck on the “time to kill” and “a time to break down” part of Ecclesiastes when, in reality, it is “a time to heal” and “a time to build up.”