Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9 NIV
At the Mayor of Memphis prayer breakfast Rev. John B. McArthur, pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church, asked for prayers for families of Memphians slain in record bloodshed by homicide, praying for God to “strengthen us, so that we may reduce the terrible homicide environment.”
The keynote speaker was former Mayor Willie Herenton who said, “The blacks must take ownership of the problem. They can’t pass it off. It’s up to us to protect us from us”
With a record number of Homicides in Memphis everyone is trying to figure out who’s responsible to stop it. Is it Mayor Strickland who based his campaign on having a solution to bring crime down? Is it faith-based leaders in Memphis where we have over 3,000 churches? Is it “The Blacks” who make up 60% of the population?
We are all responsible. The question is still the same as it was when Cain killed Able and God wanted an accounting for his blood by asking, “where is your brother? Cain deflected God’s question by asking God, “Am I responsible for my brother?” The better question might be who do we consider our brother? Or as the evasive religious leader asked Jesus; “who is my neighbor?” Our brother or our neighbor is anybody that needs our help regardless of skin color.
We cannot ignore that a record number of people are dying in Memphis and it’s not just a black problem.
1. I am my brothers’ keeper. Charity starts at home. Mayor Herenton is right to a degree. We, as African-Americans, have to take ownership for our communities. Memphis is predominately African-American in its population but not necessarily in its representation. Change has to start from the inside out and there has to be support from the outside for what’s going on in the inside. We have to put the resources behind the problem.
2. We are our brothers’ keeper. It’s going to take a whole village to raise our children. That village consists of mentors and advocates from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Crime is linked to poverty and poverty is linked to racism. Poor blacks didn’t get in this predicament by themselves and they shouldn’t take all of the blame. There is a progressive tapestry of a diverse group of people that must tackle this problem.
3. God is our brothers’ keeper. God came to Cain and wanted an accounting for the blood of Able. He heard the blood crying out from the ground. God is going to hold all Christians accountable for how we handled the orphans, the poor, the widow, the foreigner; the least of these. There’s a lot of spilled blood screaming from the grounds of America. We were watching an old movie called, “Gangs of New York” based in 1879. It’s a story of how New York experienced a blood bath of conflict between Irish Immigrants and native Protestants. As we watched the bloody bodies strewn all over the ground after a gang fight, my oldest son asked me, “What kind of country do we live in?”
It’s a country that has been built on bloodshed; Native American blood, Mexican blood, Chinese blood, Polish blood, Italian blood, African blood, Jewish blood, Irish blood, and God wants to know who’s responsible for this bloodshed?! We are!
I know it was the blood; I know it was the blood for me. One day when I was lost Jesus died upon the cross and I know it was the blood for me. His blood redeemed me from my sin and now it is my responsibility to help save others from their sin regardless of the color of their skin. We are all inextricably tied to a similar fate. We may have come over on different ships but we are in the same boat now! Help us all to be responsible for stopping the bloodshed in our communities, nation, and our world. I am my brothers and sisters keeper. Use us all to stop the bloodshed.
In Jesus Name,