We all woke up to the horrendous news of rioting and looting in the Loop, going as far north near the neighborhood of St. Teresa’s. How this advances the cause of justice and racial equality, is the key question asked by our own mayor during a press conference. Plainly and simply, this behavior, in response to any police shooting, does nothing to help the cause of justice. People going in and out of stores stealing merchandise , very nonchalantly, makes one's blood boil.
These are trying times, given the abuse of power by some of our police and the growing unrest due to systemic racism. But actions must have their consequences, or we will have a society unhinged by opportunists who simply want to create turmoil and division. If one is poor and trying to feed themselves or their loved ones, a large screen tv or a pair of expensive shoes won’t help. The actions of the people destroying storefronts, running in and out of stores with merchandise, can only be labeled as stealing, theft, and vandalism. Plain and simple.
The city’s response must be to hold the individuals accountable for what they have done. And our response must be to pray for peace in our city. We must continue to work together to eradicate the sin and plague of racism. A handful of looters must not detract us from building a world of justice. We need to keep moving forward the gospel mandate to love neighbor, which means every human being.
We must face the root causes of the unrest and violence plaguing our society and make the necessary changes strengthening education, health care and economic opportunities for all people. Building bridges between people and cultures can only help in this endeavor. Perhaps this is a sobering time for those who have significant financial resources not to resort to extravagant lifestyles that help create a climate of indifference to the plight of those who are struggling just to barely make ends meet.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to die to selfishness and the careless use of our resources. How each one of us acts in our personal lives influences the lives of others. Love and sacrifice builds up society; self preoccupation weakens our bonds with each other. Violence in all of its forms must be repudiated, which includes destruction of property and stealing. There is a place for peaceful protest; there is also a place for peaceful, prayerful silence. Prayer must precede action, though, if the desired result is to take root, making cultural transformation a reality.