Pastor’s Corner: Marches in the Streets

Protesters along a roadside in Hilo on June 2, 2020

June 3, 2020

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any more stressful, people are marching in the streets. Again. This time, they do not march to demand the reopening of businesses and bars. They cry out against a legal system and a social order that has slain people of color, primarily African Americans and Hispanics, at a much higher rate than white Americans. All too often, their killers have not been held to account, especially if they are agents of the government.

Over 140 cities have seen protests. They have been peaceful in the main – but at nightfall, violence has erupted in many places. Sometimes it has been the riotous reaction of angry people. At other times – as when President Trump chose to cross the street from the White House for a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, on Monday – it has been law enforcement officials who initiated the violence.
Racism and race-based supremacist ideas are not unique to America, but Sojourner’s Jim Wallis was right to call it “America’s Original Sin.” Even in times that open bigotry was discouraged (open bigotry is horrifyingly more prevalent in 2020 than it was in 2000), legal structures designed to protect the power of whites and limit the opportunities of non-whites remained in place.

This week I watched a conversation among African-American leaders in the UCC. It was deeply powerful. You can watch it on YouTube below. It is as profound a view into the suffering of African-Americans as I have seen.

What can we do in such times?

Aloha must be our guide. Love does no wrong to a neighbor, said Paul. As people, let us repent our own bigotry – and yes, we have it. Even in Hawai’i, we have learned society’s lessons about “the other” all too well. As a community, let us honor the full humanity of every person in courtesy, in compensation for labor, and in law. As a society, let us destroy the structures that oppress and build new structures that empower.

Aloha must be our guide.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on June 3, 2020

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