Though I understand the depth of a father’s love, I can only imagine the deepness of pain Michael Brown, Sr. has suffered in the months since his unarmed teenage son was killed by a police officer in Fergusen, Missouri.
I cannot relate, though, and would sooner die than be able to.
So I was overwhelmed with appreciation for Mr. Brown’s plea for peace in anticipation of a grand jury’s decision, tonight, as to whether to criminally charge the man who took his son’s life.
“No matter what the grand jury decides,” he said, “I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change. Positive change.”
Hurting others is not the answer, he said. And, of course, he is right.
Tonight, as parts of greater St. Louis fall into turmoil in defiance of Mr. Brown’s pleas, and as protests have erupted in other parts of our nation, I wanted to take a moment to share with you this man’s words.
“We are stronger united,” he said.
When we are hurt, our impulse is often to hurt back. The deeper the hurt, the stronger the impulse. This is a natural urge. But only when we overcome these desires can we break free of a cycle of violence that only creates greater, greater and greater pain.
At a most basic level, this is a lesson we can apply to relatively small pains. We can see this when someone refuses to respond to an offense caused inadvertently by someone they cherish.
At a far vaster level, this is a lesson we can apply even to tremendous evils. We have seen this non-violent movements led by individuals like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. We have seen this in the truth and reconsolidation efforts in places like South Africa.
This does not mean we should forget. Nor does it necessarily mean we should forgive.
But if it should come to pass that you ever find yourself tempted to respond to pain with pain, I wish for you to be strong. I wish for you to be courageous. I wish for you to be steadfast.
I wish for you to be peace.