On Wednesday, July 8, Christian Cooper, the Black Central Park birdwatcher who had been the target of a white woman’s racist words and actions, announced that he would not work with the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation to prosecute Amy Cooper. As he said:
“On the one hand, she’s already paid a steep price . . . Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on…. So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me” (CNN online).
Likewise, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning and saw the story about Mack McCarter’s Community Renewal “WeCare” program started in Shreveport, Louisiana––a program that started with one neighborhood’s skepticism but has since grown into a thriving support system in many communities.
Yes, we need justice, but we also need mercy and grace. Think of the sorry state we would all be in if God only dished out justice, for we are all guilty of unkind and unjust actions, statements, and/or thoughts (which God views as all the same––1 John 3:15; Matthew 15:9), just as we have all been the recipient, no doubt, of the same.
I am sure there are actions that need to happen on the national stage to address issues of inequality and injustice, but those ultimate, sweeping decisions lie with others. We have an element of control only in our small circle of influence. And on this personal, human-to-human level, actions like those of C. Cooper and Mark McCarter seem to provide the most healing.
Tenth Avenue North has a song entitled “This is Where the Healing Begins” which speaks to the walls we build up around us to protect ourselves, and only when we let them down and let God in can the actual healing begin.
Over the years, walls have also been built between the many layers of our society . . . from social to political . . . and while our government may be contemplating a broad, bulldozer approach, we can do our bit by removing one crumbling brick or warped picket at a time. Let’s do our part. Let’s show “God’s light” in these dark situations. This is how the healing begins.