A Statement from Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness
The week of May 24th will be remembered as a week of lament, mourning, grief, and outrage. Death has been a constant presence throughout the world as lives have been impacted by loss and pain. The most troubling aspect is the fact that so much of it is unwarranted. The simple fact is that people are dying needlessly due to the reality that the resources of this world are not equally nor equitably distributed. Our grief is compounded by the fact that there is intentionality in the suffering inflicted.
The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, is a tragic opportunity for this nation to come to grips with the fact that the country in which we live has never truly repented of its racist roots. Despite our magnificent words of freedom and justice, neither have ever been evenly distributed to people of color. We want an end to racism and its devastating impact, but that takes determination and, ultimately, sacrifice.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has compiled a record of speaking against injustice, issuing statements, and defending the oppressed. Every Presbyterian who has seen the video of the death of Mr. George Floyd has to be filled with repulsion and disgust. The fact that one human being could kill another so blatantly and without hesitation in the presence of eyewitnesses, causes each one of us to wonder, “what type of world do we live in when something like this can happen?”
The racist elements in our society must be named before they can be expunged. The excesses of the criminal justice system, which result in the murder of people in the streets and unjust sentencing in the courts, must be ended. Wealth in the hands of a few must be fairly distributed for the benefit of all.
We are people of faith who believe that God is the “creator of the heavens and the earth.” God is a God of love and equally a God of justice. So how do we, as a people called to emulate the actions of a just God, respond? More specifically, for our white brothers and sisters, how will you seek justice for and protect our neighbors of color who are burden by racism?
Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve racial justice in our country? Are you ready to make sacrifices so that others might have a more meaningful life? Are you prepared to let go of your privilege so that others may benefit? How will you respond?
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”- James 2:14-16