We Will Deserve It

Coming back to the George Floyd incident, here’s the scenario that’s keeping me up at night:

Suppose there had been three armed combat veterans in the crowd. Suppose they decide they didn’t fight terrorism overseas to let this nonsense happen at home, and they take it upon themselves to do something about it, right now? They spread out, draw their weapons, and demand that the officers get off him.

What next? With their own pistols in weapon-retention holsters, the officers don’t stand much of a chance, and they have to know it. Maybe it ends without bloodshed. Maybe somebody stupidly goes for a gun, prompting a very brief shootout. The veterans may well get shot by other officers, and are probably going to prison…but then, maybe not. What happens if the jury refuses to convict? 

If such men, even one such man, had been on the scene, Floyd would probably be alive today. We might have lost a few officers who were killing a man who was already down, cuffed, and clearly no longer a threat. We might have lost a heroic veteran who was willing to step in. But — tragic as all this would be — would it be an improvement over what actually happened? How many of us are just a little more likely to be the person who steps in today than we were a week ago?

We’ve had some limited instances of that kind already (think the Bundy ranch standoff back in 2014). The day an incident like that goes viral — and if we keep going like we have been, it will happen eventually — we will be crossing a wide line that there’s no easy way back from. After that, the police force becomes an occupying army; principled civilians become the resistance. People don’t call the police for fear of what predatory (or simply scared) officers will do to them. Police don’t respond to some calls because of what might be waiting in ambush. Criminals thrive, and prudent people on all sides become ready to shoot first for their own safety. I don’t want to live there. Do you?

When that kind of confusion grips a nation, it is a divine judgment (see Judges 7:22, 2 Chronicles 20:22-24.) If we come to that point, none of us will be able to say we do not deserve it. We are a government of the people. Every officer who puts on a badge, does so in the name of every person of voting age in that jurisdiction. Anything that officer does is done in our name, and we pay him to do it. They are not doing these things; we are doing these things.

 So “let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” (Jonah 3:8-9)

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