What We Are Learning Through Baltimore

Collin Brooks

The Paw Print

Riots (or protests if you prefer) have broken out all over Baltimore. The city is on fire. These riots and protests find their genesis in the bizarre death of Eddie Gray. According to reports, Eddie Gray fled from police unprovoked after being encountered by the officers. After being arrested and put in a police van, Gray was taken to the police station. An ambulance was called immediately upon arrival. He was admitted into the hospital and died there a week later. It has been reported he died of a spinal cord injury.

It is known that he was not properly fastened into the van. The officers did not strap him in securely as protocol demands. It has been rumored that this injury occurred during the ride to the station. These Rumors bloomed from the idea that officers in the past have been known to place people in these vans and drive recklessly. That’s the current speculation. It is certainly possible, and is certainly not yet confirmed.

Gray’s death is still fresh in the wake of other controversial deaths of black men at the hands (or in this case seemingly at the hands) of the police. As riots and protests have broken out before, history is repeating itself in Baltimore. There are two primary lessons to be learned through Baltimore.

There is a growing tension between the sides. The ambiguity is intentional, for there are many sides that these issues are fanning the flames of the continued tension that has existed between them. Conservatives and Liberals, religious and non-religious, police and citizens, and whites and blacks are all sides that seemingly seem to have vested interests in the judicial outcomes of these cases. The danger that has arisen is an apparent inability to judge the circumstances and cases on any kind of individual level. It seems as if whatever the majority opinion is of the category one already identifies with must be the position held. It is amazing how many people, on both sides of the civil debate, chose a side before the evidence had even been presented. It seems, for example, impossible for a white conservative to view the cases individually and come to the conclusion that Michael Brown was guilty and the officer did not act inappropriately, but Freddie Gray certainly was a victim, without being viewed as some kind of traitor. On the other side of the coin, it seems almost impossible for a black person, or even a liberal, to dare believe that any of these officers may be innocent without being ostracized or shunned. What has become apparent is that all of these issues are being compiled into a kind of false dichotomy: either all the officers are guilty or they are all innocent. And residing allegiances must determine that position prior. This imbalance is dangerous, and it increases the tension and hostility tenfold.

There is a bigger lesson to Baltimore though. A lesson that mankind has been dealing with since its beginning. What is ultimately going on here is a demonstration of the heart of man. Everyone is looking for answers. Regardless of how one interprets these things, one is looking for the cure to the evil intentions of corrupt officers, to stifle the selfishness of thug criminals, or to tranquilize the impulsive recklessness of looters and rioters, or maybe a little bit of everything. Everyone is recognizing there is a problem and everyone is looking for answers. What Baltimore has displayed is that riots and protests aren’t working. Political policy isn’t working. The issue is not police or government. The issue is the true heart of man; sin is the issue. Policies don’t change the hearts of men. Anti-policy protests and brutality don’t change the heart of man. What the world needs is a heart transplant, not more legislation.

This can’t be spoken of. The predominant worldview that is advanced in our public institutions is a worldview that cannot account for any kind of objective moral code to hold all people responsible to. The worldview of choice in this country prefers to allow Disney slogans (man is naturally good) and a subjective moral experience to govern each individual. It cannot call anything “wrong”. Something is wrong in Baltimore; something is wrong in this world. People need repentance; people need rescuing; the answer is a savior.

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