Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin: Tragic Deaths, Ending Trail of Tears and Fears

December 15, 2014


"When a society is revenue driven, minorities can be seen as 'low hanging fruit”'in a quota system from writing traffic tickets to arrest warrants. It’s not so much about skin color as it is about economics.” – Niger Innis

Regardless of which side of the scenarios you are on, many would admit that the deaths of these and so many more young men, are very tragic.

So much is being said by so many already that I pray only to participate by adding even more clarity and peaceful solutions to the puzzle. With all the interviews and articles/blogs surrounding the whole Michael Brown/Darren Wilson and now Eric Garner situations, let’s include more prayer in all the discussions.

The media is portraying two-sided issues; those who agree with the grand jury’s decisions and support the law enforcement systems; and those who disagree with the decisions in support of the dead youths; hoping to make “tragic heroes” of our dead brothers.

Because, like it or not, these young people are someone’s “dearly departed,” and in God’s eyes, they are our brothers. As the old song goes; “he ain’t heavy; he’s my brother.”

The media schedule guests from one side or the other and allow the contenders to go at each other. Conflict sells stories and hooks audiences. Many media outlets have agendas and they skew the questions in hopes of spinning the discussion in one direction or the other.

We are often asked to comment on this person or that person and what their motives might be. Yet rather than judge or accuse which leads to strife, we all need to work towards the same goal of PEACE. This concept leads us to Mathew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”

Now, as to erstwhile tragic heroes:

Aristotle’s definition is playing out across our nation.

He defines a tragic hero as having certain characteristics, among them being:

1) Flaw or error of judgment (hamartia).

2) A reversal of fortune (peripeteia) brought about because of the hero’s error in judgment.

3) The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero’s own actions (anagnorisis). Surely Michael had to have known that his encounter with former Officer Wilson was a direct result of his action to rob the convenience store and confront the officer.

4) Excessive Pride (hubris). Only God knows the state of the hearts of the dead or the living.

5) The character’s fate must be greater than deserved. Certainly Michael’s, Eric’s, and Trayvon’s are tragic.

Depending on what side you’re on will determine if you think these young people fit the definition of tragic heroes or not.

In our society some put certain people on pedestals and look up to them. We view them as heroes or idols because they’re famous, rich, good at a particular sport, good at playing the piano or just plain powerful.

For me, there is only One who deserves to be a hero who is flawless and without blemish: God. As in three in One; God the Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus Christ. So Jesus is my Hero.

Are there people in society who live lives as virtuously as humanly possible that we can all look to and strive to be like them? Of course there are.

But we need to look at what makes them virtuous. Certainly it’s not the amount of money they make, it’s not because they hold a high office in business or government, or because they possess a God-given talent at sports or in playing a musical instrument.

Nor is it because misfortunes propel them to the media forefront. No, what makes a person virtuous is what they do with what God has given them. You don’t have to be rich or powerful to be virtuous. You can affect those around you no matter how small your circle of influence is.

There is still a third aspect of this situation that needs discussing. I’m talking about prayer.

I know people in Ferguson, NY and Florida are praying because I have contact through the prayer networks. I, and many others, have prayed with many in these communities. We encouraged people to pray for peace first and justice will follow. But I’m not hearing or reading much about prayer in the media.

Maybe because covering meetings like the 21 day tent meeting in Ferguson at www.thefergusonresponse.com; or the “2014 Evening of Prayer for Our City & The Urban World” hosted by Bishop Raphael Green and other ministers and leaders in Ferguson; or the many prayer encounters with www.restorethedream2015.com isn’t “sexy” news?

What we all need to do is step back a little from our emotions and biases and reflect on “What Would Jesus Do.” As my Uncle Martin said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Brothers and sisters, I fear we will perish as fools unless we pray and ask for guidance from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

While writing this blog, the grand jury voted not to file criminal charges against the police officer in the case of Eric Garner who died in New York in July when a white police officer put Garner, a black man, in a chokehold during an arrest,. Again people will protest and hopefully it won’t become violent.

So what will the race baiters and emotion stirrers come up with next? Will “hands up; don’t shoot” become “hands up; don’t choke?” I guess asking for “pants up; don’t loot” won’t go over so well with some of the protesters.

In Eric’s case as in the Michael Brown case and the Trayvon Martin case, now more people are dead, adding to the number of youth dead by racism, same-race murders and other causes. Whatever the cause, it is all a tragedy. But the greater tragedy is the overall lack of respect for all human life.

Recently Pope Frances said: “As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights. Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace. The world expects those who claim to adore God to be men and women of peace who are capable of living as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences.” [Emphasis added]

I would add that not only religious leaders but all Christians are obligated to denounce all violence against human dignity and human rights. All life is precious and does matter.

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been cleverly used by many in this debate. Even Planned Parenthood jumped in with their tweets that they supported Ferguson and used the hashtag. I responded that all Black lives matter, even the ones in the wombs of their mothers. With over 1,000 Black babies being aborted every single day, where are the protests over their lives? And what about the Black lives being lost in cities like Chicago? Do their lives matter? Of course they do but I don’t see protests over their lives. Are they any less deserving than Michael Brown? I think not.

If we work on ourselves, our own biases, our own prejudices, our own shortcomings, and drop to our knees and repent for our own wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness, then we, the human, one blood, race, not separate races, will begin to see real change that can stop the killing, stop the looting, stop the racism.

Finally, please check out this message from Minister Jonathan Gentry at:

http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/12/01/the-most-powerful-six-minutes-of-truth-glenn-has-ever-seen

Then revisit the lyrics of “We Don’t Need Another Hero” with Tina Turner.

Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children
The last generation
We are the ones they left behind…

I agree, we don’t need another hero. We have Jesus. Now let’s get busy about the business of reaching the hopeless, jobless and dreamless; addressing their fears, meeting their needs, drying their tears. Herein lie our solutions.

Praying for Peace and Love.


Copyright ©2014

Dr. Alveda King is author of King Rules, Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life, and the founder of Alveda King Ministries. Read more at http://www.priestsforlife.org/africanamerican/