And then there was the release of the footage of what should have been a routine traffic stop in Memphis, the revved up violence of the police, the death of a young black man. The footage was released yesterday, in the early evening, to give people time to get home ahead of expected demonstrations.
I'm not sure I understand why we need to release this kind of video evidence to a wide audience. Save it for the court room and then release it if necessary. There was talk of transparency, but who needs this kind of transparency? I don't think the parents of the murdered man demanded its release. Most of us in the community don't need to see it; if the police chief says it's the most sickening thing she's ever seen, I'm willing to take her word for it.
I understand the need for demonstrations, and I'm glad that the demonstrations that happened around the nation last night remained mostly peaceful, from the news coverage that I've seen. I wasn't too worried about my personal safety, since my seminary apartment is far from where violence would erupt, if it erupted.
Last night, I wrote this Facebook post, which I want to preserve here: "Somewhere in this seminary apartment building, I hear a baby crying, and a parent singing. On this night when we get another recording that shows us how we can be so brutal to each other, I am grateful for babies who cry and parents who soothe, and I sing my own prayers to a God who can transform all sorts of brokenness into beauty."
I had been thinking of a poem possibility before last night. In the wee small hours of the morning earlier this week, I had awakened to the sound of someone singing. Sounds travel in strange ways in this building, so I'm not sure who was singing or why. I'm fairly sure it was a human singing, not a recording.
This morning, I turned my attention to my prayer book, as I do every morning. I use Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours, which is rooted in the lectionary that comes to us from the ancient monastic tradition. One of this morning's passages leapt out at me: "The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all who are oppressed" (Psalm 103: 6).
It's not the first time that a passage seemed chosen for our particular day and time, and I do realize that the beauty of the Psalms rests in the broad scope of them, everything from mourning/lament to joy to anger and all the emotions in between.
This verse bears repeating: "The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all who are oppressed" (Psalm 103: 6).