Something remarkable has happened in the last few weeks. After George Floyd's death at the hands of police, protests erupted in Minneapolis; black folks there had long felt abused rather than served by their police, and a series of mayors had tried unsuccessfully to bring reforms. Protests spread to cities all over America. Just about every black American (and many brown and white Americans) could tell stories about police overreach, and fresh examples unfolded before our eyes. Demonstrations even spread around the world, for such abuses exist well beyond our shores.
At first, the protests were accompanied by rage, as on so many occasions in the last 100 years. And for a moment, some white Americans were able to change the topic to the fires in shopwindows. But then something remarkable happened.
Violence ended, but the protests grew. They became almost uniformly peaceful and purposeful. It was no longer possible to change the topic. We all had to focus on the real issues, the now-undeniable issues of race and power. People of all colors came together in the streets. Americans who had been so divided politically could at last acknowledge one of the hardest, most divisive issues in American life.
There is no Martin Luther King, Jr., leading this change. We've had to face up to it on our own, pretty much. God only knows if we will stay focused and purposeful. But one of the best ideas I've heard is for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, such as the one that helped South Africa. It's a deeply Christian idea -- that we can move past the past by telling the truth, one factual case at a time.
In recent days, we have heard story after story of injustice, and have bonded in our determination to do better. I hope that we'll stay at it. As Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."