THE COLOR OF EVIL
I have read so much about the incident of May 25 at Minneapolis. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video until last night. I heard of how the victim with another friend facilitated access to the gospel in a project in Houston. That touched my heart and became a motivation to watch the video.
Watching the video only aggravated my initial reaction. From the onset, I had a heavy heart on the matter. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it. It’s been very difficult putting my feelings into words. I am upset, angry, and suddenly realized that I am becoming fearful of law enforcement officers.
Fear is a tyrant and brings the worst out of any man. To confront my state of fear, I called out three police officers that I know to engage with them firsts as human beings, representative of the community that we live in, and briefly talk about the moment we find ourselves without any negative emotions. Once again, I realized that they are also human with blood flowing through their veins. I jokingly asked how one of them would travel back home after the work shift. Won’t it be a good idea to change clothes while driving back home? It won’t be lack of courage to do so but to respect the feelings of the aggrieved. I was surprised that he felt that way too. At that point; I realized that the color of evil is not dark or black!
That may sound strange against the grains of what has been taught and acclaimed as a theory. Evil is evil in any garment or skin color. What I saw in that video is heinous. It is evil. Who would dare stand as a witness in times past over such heinous crime? The marginalized have a voice in the face of brazen abuse of power. Social media and smartphones have become weapons of exposing abuse of power. Watching one of the officers standing close to the scene doing nothing aggravated my pain. I was no longer paying attention to the gruesome murder going on in the video but the uncaring posture of the other officers. At a point, I shouted and asked; “how dare you?” How dare you stand akimbo in the face of tyranny? I dare you to stand aloof while murder was been perpetuated under your watch as a law officer.
At this point, I remember the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote; “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Suddenly, I found my voice. I dared myself for not speaking against this tyranny. I realized that my silence was the reason for my fear. Evil is evil in any color and must be denounced by people of honor. Evil is evil by whatever garment is put on to commit it. Evil is evil by whatever weapon is used. Evil is evil whether it is state-sponsored or self-sponsored. What happened In Minneapolis on May 25 is evil.
My attention was brought to the Facebook posts of both Justin Bouldin of Resurrection Houston and Corey Paul. Corey said, I knew George Floyd personally and the media can’t distort that knowledge. Justin’s Facebook post is quite touching. It was posted on May 27 at 6.42am. I doubt if he ever slept through that night. Justin narrated his experience when he moved to 3rd Ward in Houston with his family to serve as church planting residents. Part of the church planting effort is a 3 on 3 basketball tournament at a large housing project called Cuney Homes across the street from Texas Southern University. He remembered sitting with George to watch a game and his words; “We need more of this in our community. See how everyone is out here, having fun and not worried about no nonsense. We need more positive opportunities for our people and that is why I’m so glad for Rez Houston is out here. Y’all always showing love and keeping it real for these youth. They need it more than anything.” That was George! A man that could recognize love in the community. A man that wanted the best for himself and his community. A man that is full of appreciation for little. Up till now, I couldn’t bear to watch a replay of his 6-year daughter in the news.
I have read several comments on blogs and vlogs that point away from the murder of George Floyd to the protest matches and the associated looting. That is nothing but a mere distraction from the main matter. The matter was becoming a race war- we versus them- until you see the pictures and videos again. I saw men of different colors standing up for justice. I saw people of different faith standing up for justice. At the same time, I saw people of various colors looting the stores. It was an appalling sight. That brought me to the conclusion of the matter; Evil has no color! Evil is evil and it must be called out without fear of color bias. Don’t wait until it gets close to you before screaming out. Injustice of any form is evil and not to speak about it is to speak. These incidents of injustice are perpetuated against communities. However, a commendable event held on June 5 in Dallas TX. I was glad to see police officers from Dallas and the surrounding cities coming together to “acknowledge that Black Lives Matter.”
A lot has been said about the systemic injustice in our nation. One can see evil on parade everywhere and in every garment. Evil may be dressed in custom made suit, in a doctor/nursing scrub, in a clergy robe, or workshop overall. Evil has no color but yet evident. Evil suffocates. Every victim of evil cries with the voice of George Floyd; “I can’t breathe!” It pained my heart that George was still calling a murderer an officer of the law. I heard him saying; “Officer, I can’t breathe!” Shouldn’t that be a signal to the officer to release his knee from George’s neck? No! Evil asphyxiates to annihilate. Whether the evil is from security agents, city council office, tax office, political leaders, or church leadership, evil suffocates its victims. Dear leader, are there some people under you who are choking under your authority? Are there people under you gasping for breath? As it was, so it is! This was what led a prophet to speak from an exalted altar and it has become what we call the Micah Mandate.
No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NLT)
To reflect on what the Lord desires demands every God-fearing person to stand with God against evil in every color and shade. This is not done by carrying a bible that you don’t read in front of a church building that you don’t attend. The Micah mandate helps us to develop a holistic spirituality that does not permit hiding our faith in a closet or behind the walls of a church building. How do we do this? Listen to what God is saying. It is the same message in every generation with different messengers.
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son, he created the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2 (NLT)
Who can do good except for the good one- God himself? He sent His only approved Son to model how to live. Jesus did what is right, loved mercy, and consistently walked humbly with God. By the life of Jesus, we know that justice, love, and forgiveness are key essentials for our walk of faith. He judged the sin of humanity on the cross. God’s eyes were away from His beloved Son as the sin of humanity was laid on Him. God’s love does not condone sin. It confronts it. God’s love speaks and acts against evil in every garment or color and shape. The death of Christ on the Cross did not diminish the pain of sin but provided forgiveness which He expressed on the cross. Jesus stood for the oppressed. He declared that he came for the unwell (people at the fringe of the society-social outcasts and economically deprived) and not those who feel well in themselves. The disciples have a mandate to create a new normal not through violence as He admonished Peter to take his sword back in Mt 26:52. Disciples of Christ have the mandate to actively engage the communities affected, share the burdens of those who weep, and see how God can use them as His hands and feet in restoring a broken world to God as His ambassadors. We are to reconcile all men back to God. Christ overcame evil but we are here to enforce His will by advancing His Kingdom by making disciples of all nations. Be the light that brings a change and have the courage of a new creation man to stand against tyranny and oppression.
Dr. Abiodun Coker has hands-on experience in both congregational ministry and health care Chaplaincy. He is an ordained and licensed Pastor as a church planter across cultures and tribal divides in Nigeria, Canada, United States and in the Caribbean Islands. He has extensive multi-location ministry experience. Abi has leadership skills that is situated with an integrative theological reflection skill. He ministers to see believers mature in their relationship with God. He is married with children. Pastor Abiodun Coker holds a Doctor of Ministry with bias in Theology of Work.