© Original content written by James R. Carlson
The recent turmoil with the issues of race and racism has led many to challenge the established order of things and demean the foundation of our nation. Some have even called for demonstrations during the National Anthem ceremonies at various sporting events. The movement called Black Lives Matter has provided a foil whereby the continued problems of our society with respect to race can be addressed. However, this movement has not captured the heart of the problem nor has it provided solutions to the persistent problems that many people face daily.
Recall that the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. led the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and was a proponent of both the Christian Gospel and the equal application of the rule of law for all people. These are two solutions that the Black Lives Matter movement misses; nonetheless, black lives do matter. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t get there. It is more important to identify the solution than to constantly rave about the problem.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ shows us that we are all created equal and treated equal in the eyes of God. The book of Revelations sums it up clearly:
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. [Revelations 5:9 KJV]
The Christian religion is an inclusive religion that accepts everyone despite their ethnic makeup. While we identify people by color but God sees us differently. He treats us all the same without regard to differences. The Christian faith is the primary means whereby the issues of race and racism can be treated spiritually in the heart of individual people and society. Respecting people as people is the goal. When we treat people like we want to be treated, we are following the Golden Rule of God. The Christian religion was key to the success of Dr. King.
Also, Dr. King supported the rule of law as a means of protecting the black community, not harming it. The rule of law is supposed to provide for civil and criminal justice for everyone in society. It is also supposed to protect our liberties; although we have to exercise our liberties ourselves. The rule of law is also supposed to provide for our Civil Rights, which includes the right to vote; people cannot establish their own polling stations so the government has to provide for these rights. So, where the law is supposed to provide for justice, liberty, and the rights of people, it wasn’t doing so in the American South before Dr. King. That is what he wanted as a solution of the state to deal with the problems of race and racism.
The trouble that Black Lives Matter presents is one of attacking law officers when they should be advocates of the law. The rule of law is a foundation for everyone to stand on and people need to be sure they are following the orders of the police or else they may be in trouble regardless of their color. The police are there for all people and all people should support them.
I recall reading the Federalist Papers many years ago and the ideas of the authors John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton remain on my heart and my mind still today. Their wisdom led this nation, before we became a nation, to see who we are as a people and what our new government should be like. Their words also provide a foundation for unity amidst the troubles of race and racism.
With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence. [Federalist #2, John Jay; 31 October 1787]
The country that Jay referred to was dominated by descendants of the English people, religion, law, and language. The heritage that Jay spoke of is of profound importance to us today.
The English were immigrants to North America and were accustomed to change. In fact, the population in England was heterogeneous consisting of many groups of people like the Anglos, the Normans, the Saxons, the Welch, the French, etc. The idea of a group of people descended from the same set of ancestors is really a signal of how many people groups migrated to England before coming to America. In the colonies of North America, the English immigrants were met by any number of migrants from other nations that were incorporated within the colonies. Not only did England have a history of bringing in new people to their country, the English in America carried on with the same traditions.
This cosmopolitan nature of England also led to a cosmopolitan language. With the influx of people from many countries into England came the change of the English language itself. English is a mixture of many different terms from various other languages and today we find the language still changing to meet with new concepts and ideas that often come from other countries. The mixture of language that now comprises English came from England’s ancestors.
From Jay’s essay we can still see how the foundation of our nation has led to an immigrant nation with a mixture of languages and cultures. Many people from many nations continue to seek the protection of America’s system of liberty and justice. As much as in the past, we are still today “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” America continues to build on its original foundations for the needs of all people.
So too, the rule of law was meant for the protection of the people and not the state. The history of law throughout the world has been dominated by the Roman Civil Law where the purpose of law is the protection of the state (an adversarial system). However, the English Common Law was founded upon an advocacy system for the protection of the individual. The rule of law is our defense against the excesses of crime and bad government.
The words of Dr. King and John Jay provide a foundation for solutions to today’s dilemma with race and racism. Faith in Jesus Christ and his redemption for us is the spiritual solution. And treating people like people is a personal solution; we learn this from God as he takes us just as we are. And the equal application of the rule of law is a state solution. So, while black lives do matter, Black Lives Matter misses the mark on all counts. It is time to complain more about the solution than the problem.