Several people dead, impending prison sentences, millions of dollars of damage, further loss of trust in the police, and further traumatized country; all for what? Someone was passing a counterfeit $20? It makes you want to slap around former officer Chavin and ask him what he was thinking. He may never tell us, but there are some things about people and about ourselves that we need to carefully consider–and fear.
I have never been a police officer nor arrested, but as a pastor I know both Scripture and people. For what that is worth, let’s consider why people do what they do, especially in situations like George Floyd and Derek Chavin found themselves in.
It is understandable, but not always excusable, that sometimes people react with unnecessary violence because of fear. If you don’t have a good grasp on your emotions, all your training might not keep you from firing a gun at the slightest threat. Some police killings have been just that. They thought they saw a gun. They thought they heard a gun. People who would wish to be in law enforcement or the military need to be more self-disciplined and brave than that. George Floyd was a big man, but the video doesn’t show a situation dangerous to the officers. Fear wasn’t it.
Maybe it is anger. When a person resists arrest, fails to listen to commands, frustration can arise. There is a desire to punish that boils to the top. Often police brutality is just that, but again, a person who wants to be in the police or military can’t be a hothead. Such persons should be weeded out at the beginning. Good coping techniques need to be practiced. Maybe Chavin was angry, but that is no excuse.
Then there is the intoxication that comes with power. When you are in command of a situation. You have the numbers. You have the weapons. It is dangerously corrupting. I personally believe Satan looks for situations like this to pervert. One must be very strong to remain under control and committed to good. Chavin had 18 complaints against him prior to this event. He was not strong. He also appears to be a smaller man. Downright diminutive compared to Floyd. “Little-man syndrome” is a thing. I think the intoxication of power was the major player in this unfortunate event.
Another, and probably not the last, driver toward violence is racism. Chavin may have been racist. I don’t know. Everybody uses profiling to try to protect themselves. While profiling maybe improves your odds of safety, it frequently mistreats or mis-categorizes a person who doesn’t deserve your stereotype. Skin color is easy to profile. You can see it. It is harder to pick out genetic country of origin, if that even matters. Character is often invisible at first glance. Profiling morphs into group hatred as it feeds on bad experiences, like-minded racists, perverse ideologies and negative self-talk. Racists are extremely dangerous in the police and military. Racism will only change with positive experiences, rejection of the racist’s worldview, and the fear of God.
God hates racism. He created all men. We are all related. Jesus died for the sins of all nations. Even God’s initial segregation of Israel from the Gentiles was for the ultimate good of all. Too few respect, let alone fear, God, however. God will bring about final and just judgment on all situations. It is very much in your interest to face justice now and repent rather than face God for your deeds on Judgement Day.
Not giving in to the dangerous urges of the sinful nature is even better:
And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7
Believer or not, we must control ourselves if we are going to live as a civilized society. This especially true in stressful situations. The police face plenty of them. They must know themselves, and fear the consequences of their actions. Just look at the consequences of this one.
Finally, worldview can play a role in this. In this case, an evolutionary worldview suggests to some that they are superior, or their race is superior to others. Most racists are too ignorant to be well thought out Darwinists. But the view that Darwin introduced seeps into the self-understanding of many in some form. Watch the movie The Forgiven now on Amazon. It is the story of South Africa and the attempt at reconciliation between races. Listen to the Darwinistic worldview as it spews out the mouth of the initial villain in this story, Piet Blomfeld. Racism loves Social Darwinism. Too few people are aware how flawed and baseless this widely accepted theory really is. Evolution cannot begin, because there is no way to start life. It cannot create new life forms, only modify them slightly. It cannot explain consciousness. It really isn’t useful for anything except explaining away God and justifying racism.
We won’t fix racism anytime soon, I fear. Justice in the Floyd murder is a good start. Proper screening and proper training of police is also important. Breaking up cultures of silence within the police is another. Changing the minds of others through positive experiences of others and challenging negative worldviews is another. We will need the help of God all the way.