To the Editor:
The recent events in Minnesota have generated a fever of protest unseen in my lifetime since the protests of the 1960s. We cannot but sympathize with those affected, especially the victims of police violence and all the victims of protest violence including innocent shop owners, and police just trying to do their jobs.
I only hope that the protests might generate a sensible and well thought out program for reform to correct the injustices and to protect the general welfare. The history of protest movements is mixed at best and usually creates a slow progression of improvements or, at worst, some grand efforts at social engineering that, over time, is counterproductive. So what can be done?
Let’s look locally. What is the current state of police procedures that might allow an overreaction by local police? What is the value of body cameras and what are we now doing in our area departments? Is our police training and our response to accusations against police what it needs to be? Do the local departments have staffing that reflect the various racial and ethnic constituencies in their neighborhoods? The evidence in nationwide incidents is that much remains to be done to improve procedure and response. I suggest that President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing needs to be the standard. Our local governments should be expected to address the issue: now!
As for the larger problems of racism and ethnic tension, we are talking about the darkness of the human heart. This is not corrected by social programs or protest movements but by personal repentance. Can the law mandate love of neighbor? Can the mere distribution of cash or the sudden hiring of thousands of the unemployed succeed in overcoming hate?
In Marlborough, we have begun a program that at once seeks, through personal repentance, to combat racism and every other form of hatred and sin. In addition, it brings our needs and concerns to the One whose love keeps the very universe in motion. We have been meeting on the second Saturday of every month at 12:00 noon at Union Common in Marlborough.
All are welcome to join us, rain or shine, on Saturday, June 13, which will mark the end of one full year of such gatherings. I pray the pastors of all our churches will join together with us to support this effort by attending personally. Since we are not encouraging large gatherings, we invite each pastor to urge their members to join with us in prayer at the same time, but on the front steps of their homes.
We kneel with those who grieve. We protest the sin in our selves. We beg for the mercy of the highest authority. Please join us.