Stop praying for peace in Ferguson

I’m done praying for peace in Ferguson. I can’t bring myself to do it.

Not when the word “peace,” uttered by those of us who still cling to our unearned privilege, means peace for us and our kind.

Not when peace means black citizens are told they must respond to yet another mockery of justice in ways the powerful and privileged deem “socially acceptable,” yet it’s somehow OK for law enforcement to come at them with tear gas and tanks and military-grade assault weapons.

Not when peace means a return to the status quo, a resumption of normalcy—that is, privilege for us and discrimination for them.

Not if what peace really means is that I don’t have to face the implications of my privilege or the pervasive reality of systemic racism. Peace, as many have noted, requires so much more than the absence of conflict.

You want “peace” in Ferguson—by which you mean you don’t want to see any more cop cars burning on TV—but you don’t want to do anything about a system in which people have no other way to make themselves heard?

Then what you want isn’t peace. What you want is for your privilege to remain untouched.

When the privileged pray for peace—if it’s not accompanied by a commitment to justice, a willingness to lay down our privilege—then what we’re really saying is we’re OK living in a world where white mass murderers are apprehended alive, yet unarmed black teens pose such a threat that they must be shot dead on the spot.

What we’re saying is we’re OK living in a world where black male teens are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white teenagers.

We’re saying it’s OK that blacks in Ferguson are disproportionately targeted by police—in 92% of searches and 86% of car stops—even though whites are found carrying illegal contraband far more often than blacks.

This is not peace.

As one pastor observed, it’s like trying to have the benefits of resurrection without crucifixion. Peace without justice. Reconciliation without owning up to the sin of oppression. Harmony without relinquishing any of our privilege.

It cannot be done.

Peace does not come cheap. As you watch the scene unfold in Ferguson, as you mourn (I hope) with those who mourn, do not pray for peace. Not until you’re ready to come to grips with what is necessary for peace.

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11 thoughts on “Stop praying for peace in Ferguson

  1. Many rumors here across the river from the situation…like keeping everyone in the dark about what was going on for over 100 days…big secret…making the announcement at 8:30 at night after days of growing tension and leaks…ensuring that pressure will escalate into action…how different might it have been if the big announcement came at High Noon…disenfranchised boys from Palestine to Ferguson thrown stones at tanks and police cars…against their own best interest…giving the crowdsplenty of time to grow so one’s violence ignites others, coming at night so it would photograph better after having given those waitng plenty of time to stand impotently…talking so much about all the tanks, and guns, and tear gas, and soldiers laying in wait as a self-fulfilling prophey…and all you can do is wait for the bell…for lights, camera, action…like actors in the wings…Not sure what would have been best…but transparency and including the family in the process and access to facts as they went along…would have seemed like common sense. Many young lives affected here…who knows what it will do to all our futures.

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  2. Pingback: Understanding Ferguson | The Daily Dispatch

  3. Reblogged this on Liminal Seasons and commented:
    “You want “peace” in Ferguson—by which you mean you don’t want to see any more burning cop cars on TV. But you don’t want to do anything about a system in which people have no other way to make themselves heard?

    Then what you want isn’t peace. What you want is for your privilege to remain untouched.”

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  4. Ben, I’m sorry that you and the people you know have only “unearned privilege.” I’m sorry that you and the people you know all partake in “systematic racism.” I’m sorry that you would rather side with a thug (regardless of color) than with a police officer risking his life for the community he patrols (regardless of color). I can only assume that you have sold everything you have and donated it to less privileged people. I assume that right now you are searching for injustice of any color. I assume you would never call a cop when you get mugged or threatened. No, I will not stop praying for peace. Peace in a community where only the innocent are being hurt. Peace in the lives of those who think they should have what someone else owns. Peace in those who are so enraged that they seek to blame their sorrows on someone with darker or lighter skin. Finally, telling people not to pray for peace is anti-scripture regardless of how much shock value it earns you. Try again.

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  5. There’s an importance difference between “peace” and “shalom”. Sadly, most North American Christians that “Pray for peace” don’t know that they ought to be praying for shalom, nor what “shalom” actually means….

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  6. Pingback: A look back at 2014 | Ben Irwin

  7. Pingback: Stop praying for peace in Ferguson Baltimore | Ben Irwin

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