My heart aches at the news of what terrible thing has happened to a 15 year old girl and the community of Richmond, California last week. A brutal, savage sexual attack took place on prom night right there behind the school as the dance took place. All of this happened under the gazing eyes of 10-2- people doing nothing to stop this brutal assault.
It is in moments like this that I have to fight for my faith in an all-loving God. I must exercise a critical discipline in order to remain a follower of Jesus the Christ. It conjures up the arguments against a living God, as this kind of violence enters the public consciousness.
I mourn for the loss that this beautifully made child of God has endured. I pray for her and her family to recover from this horrific action. I mourn for the community and the pain it must endure and pray that leaders may emerge to channel a healing spirit into the hearts of this mourning community.
As the anger subsides and is replaced with disgust, remorse, and wonder, my mourning is replaced with thoughts of “Why?” and “How?”. How could this happen to any young girl? How could this be an option for these young men? Why this community and these individuals? Why now? Why ever?
I am no fan of the blame game. This tragedy is not the sole responsibility of any one party. This tragic event was perpetrated directly by a few individuals. We as a culture, a society did not perpetrate this despicable crime. We are however responsible for the climate and conditions to which this crime was perpetrated.
Richmond, California could be any other community in this nation with a rather diverse population struggling in the wake of the economic meltdown. Richmond has a minority population of Hispanic [26%], Anglo [21%], and Asian [12%] with a majority African-American [36%] population. The city has struggled with education. The graduation rate of the students from Richmond High School is lower than the national average. With very few students continuing their education on to college or university.
The youth of Richmond have a greater chance to go to prison than they do to go on to higher education. The crime rates have risen and continue to rise due to unemployment and underemployment. Poverty and hopelessness are of greater abundance in a large portion of the population than is a sense of any viable future.
This unfortunate and senseless crime that happened on prom night in Richmond, California could have happened anywhere in this nation. We have failed our youth, our future. We are called to be good stewards of this beautiful and wonderfully made creation around us. We have been called to raise up Godly children. Yet we remain uninvolved in the raising of these generations. We do not get involved because it is not our responsibility. Sisters and brothers, those that witnessed this tragic crime also did not get involved. They stood by and watched this tragedy unfold.
This behavior of non-involvement has been passed on to this generation. We have modeled this behavior of not taking responsibility for each other and tending to the family of God. We proclaim the family of God and isolate ourselves from the very responsibility to which God calls us too. This is something we have been wrestling to answer for years and having varying levels of success in breaking free from and settling in to our sleep.
I am not saying anyone is particularly responsible for this. I am saying that we are all a part of the problem. In our honest and eager hopes to be beacons of light we have collectively failed those who have followed us into this world. We as a nation. We as a people. We as a community. We as a family. We have fallen short of the glory of God.
Leaders, agents of change, and mystic activists are not born; they are forged by circumstance and emerge when the injustice of the world around them can no longer be tolerated and something must be done. Can we look outside of our window and conclude that all is well with this world? Can we ignore the cries of the innocent begging for relief or death? What does the hurt of this world, the injustice resting upon the backs of the marginalized do to your heart? There comes a time when we must stand up and say, “This is over. There shall be no more injustice, no more exploitation. I will no longer ignore. I will no longer stand by as the Other is exploited or forgotten. I will speak for those that have no voice. I will offer my hands, my feet, my heart to those that have lost the will to care, to act, to be. I will do as Jesus the Christ has done and empty myself for those in the margins. I will answer the call, Lord. Here I am.”
When enough “I” stand up, speak out, band together, enter the margins there is a “We” that forms. Do we have any leaders, agents of change, or mystic activists out there that feel the call today? When shall our “I” emerge to be a “We” to the margins? I pray that “We” may not be silent. That “We” may stand up. That “We” sell all and follow in ways that radically transform this city, this nation, this world. I pray that “We” shall not ignore the mourning heart of those that have followed us into existence.
LORD, hear our prayer…