What happened recently in Dallas, Texas was not surprising, nor is it an isolated incident; in fact, we're probably going to be hearing a lot about similar & related incidents, in the coming days! Much of the fault, maybe most of it, can be laid at the feet of ignorance, intolerance & hate, but there is also a hint of the same spirit that stirred our founding fathers, those many years ago, to stand up against oppression & tyranny. One might say they're going about it all wrong, but then, there were those same objectors in those former days & the same objection has been raised in our own day as well. Whatever the reasons, there is definitely something going on & headed to a theater near you: headlines to the effect of, 'we've had enough & we're not gonna take it anymore' may soon apear!
American Culture, cultures really, have been hurtling toward this morass like a veritable juggernaut for years! Really, what else should we have expected from a 'melting-pot' such as we live in? Sure, for the first little while, things may have gone more or less smoothly, but as different cultures began to find their way into the 'mix' & multiply, not unlike the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, they began to clash with the other cultures around them; the inevitable outcome is not a pretty picture! Add to the mixture, injustice, tyranny & oppression, then you have minor to major disturbances & finally, all-out war!
History itself shows us what happens when you try to combine two very different cultures, much less several; sooner or later those cultures will clash! When this happens, as history has borne manifold witness to, one side usually wins, unless, in some cases, an uneasy sort of truce is eked out. In the beginning, the different cultures that built this nation worked side by side, although fights often festered & broke out, in the West particularly, with the cowboys & ranchers, the Chinese & the farmers. Back East, much the same occurred, with the Irish & Germans, the American Indian & the Caucasian. Throw all the other different cultures, minor though they may have been, into the 'mess' & you had the ingredients for a potentially volatile cocktail!
Although American culture may claim its own brand of uniqueness, there is really nothing unique about it! As many Americans claim their ancestry from any number of different nations, however far removed, so America hosts as many different cultures itself. One may witness this in pretty much any larger city, even some smaller towns: there may be as many as a half-dozen different sections, like, the Chinese section ( a number of cities boast a 'Chinatown' ), there may be a separate area predominantly populated by those of the darker persuasion, a section that is claimed by the Mexicans, while the Asians, from Korea to Vietnam have overtaken other areas & these are all different cultures. Even going from the eastern United States to the West, one will notice a vast difference; then there's California!
The Civil War was, on this continent, a glaring example of the Clash of Cultures! The Northern regions, with their industry & machinery, clashed with the South & their agriculturally-based culture. Though slavery was touted as the major issue behind the War Between the States, it really began with the differences between the cultures: the southern culture was based more on an attitude of personal sovereignty & states rights, while the northern was one that was still reeling, in a sense, from the blood spilt during the Revolutionary War, or the War for Independence. The Northern States, prior to the great westward expansion was also peopled, to a greater extent, by European immigrants, while the South, though most of its inhabitants were European by descent, was peopled by those who had migrated less recently & had thus, with the help of African slaves, built a uniquely separate culture. The North had their own slaves, though probably they were predominantly white Europeans, Irish in particular.
Much of the issue of different cultures has been solved by a healthy application of the Gospel! Jesus did not teach His disciples to 'love one other' based on color, race, or creed; the only race with which He was concerned was the human race; though Jesus was a Jew & was the Jew's Messiah, or King, He ultimately came to save His people from their sin, no matter if they were a Jew or a Gentile, whether they came from within the borders of the Land, or whether they came from one of the islands of the Sea!
Here in America, with the multitude of different cultures that exist within her borders, we have enjoyed relative peace for the last one hundred years or so. There have been periods of unrest, particularly in the south, with the unnecessary distinction between the white & black peoples, but for the most part, the different cultures in this nation have learned to either get along or stay the hell away from each other! All-out war, ever since the War Between the States, has pretty much been relegated to foreign shores, but if matters in this nation continue to degrade, then incidents like the recent murders will not only escalate, they will become the harbinger of things to come!
Murder is murder; no matter who commits the crime, no matter how much the one murdered deserved what they got, it is still wrong! The recent events in Dallas, as well as others across this nation are no less despicable & pointless because they may or may not have been an example of reaping what has been sown. Police brutality, though it's gotten out of hand, is not without warrant in many cases. On the other hand, the aggressive behavior of 'the blacks' against those in authority has not served them well either. The 'bad apples' on both sides of the equation have served only to give the rest a bad name, so now we have nervous ( trigger-happy ) 'white' cops shooting 'blacks' who may or may not have been guilty of a crime, simply because of the pervasive perception!
The situation can be resolved! The Gospel transcends Culture; the principles of loving your neighbor as yourself & treating others as you would have them treat you, are universal, no matter what culture you live in. Whether you are black or white, brown, yellow or red, if the Kingdom of Heaven is in your heart & the Spirit of the Creator dwells in your inmost being, you will be filled with love for your God & your neighbor!
What happened in Dallas the other day, again, was regrettable, despicable beyond words, but it, as well as incidents like it, are merely a glaring example of reaping what one sows! Because some 'blacks', feeling oppressed, or whatever, take out their aggression ( frustrations ) by committing certain crimes, some 'cops', feeling unsafe around ANY 'black' who's acting 'suspiciously', especially if the 'cop' is white, tend to act more aggressively when faced with these 'suspicious' actions, or even mannerisms. The 'blacks', on the other side of the coin, because they realize the negative stigma attached to persons of their color by man 'cops' then tend to approach their supposed 'authority' with a querulous attitude. And so the vicious circle keeps repeating itself until someone ends up dead, then the cycle seeks its next hapless victim!
This nation has a choice before it; 'live by the Creator's perfect Law of Liberty, or die by the law of the jungle!' The Perfect Law of Liberty says, 'Love your God with all your heart mind, soul & strength' & 'love your neighbor as yourself'. The law of the jungle, on the other hand, is purely animalistic; it says, 'kill or be killed'! This 'dog eat dog' mentality is pretty pervasive in this country, especially concerning foreign wars ( 'strike them before they have a chance to strike us' ). Only the Gospel lived out can heal this gaping wound! We may hope & pray that this will occur before 'Dallas' is made to look like a Sunday School outing in the park, but more deaths like this are sure to happen while the Gospel continues to be caged & relegated to a 'heaven or hell' scenario'; if that's what the Gospel is, then we may as well give it up!
Charles Haddon Shank