This is an opinion piece.

I’m saddened at the current state of our country — almost at a loss for words.

In the last week, we’ve seen protests across the nation and within our own state turn violent over what’s been cited as racial injustice. 

Born and raised in Marshall County, Alabama, where only 1.47% of the population is black or African American, I don’t really understand much about the black community as a whole. Outside of what I’ve read in a high school history textbook among other literature, I can’t begin to fathom all that their ancestors endured within the last century. I can’t understand what many go through even today. What I do know is I’d like to have a better understanding, so I’m listening. We must all make an increased effort to show that black lives do matter.

I’m not speaking ill of others’ lives. Yes, all lives matter. But there’s no debating that fact. Unfortunately, when it comes to people of color, there seems to be an issue.

In the Matthew 5, when Jesus delivered His sermon on the mount, He proclaimed several things as He went through the Beatitudes. He started with: “Blessed are the poor …” 

Did this mean the rich were not important? Of course they were important; that wasn’t the issue at hand. The problem was people seeing the poor as unequal based on their social and economic standing and unfit to receive blessings from God. 

While on the Beatitudes, Jesus also said, “Blessed are the peacemakers …” whom we might refer to as law enforcement officers today. But I’ll save more on that for my next column. 

Ben Watson, a Christian and former NFL football player, posted the following statement to his Facebook page:

“A fool looks in the mirror and walks away unchanged. We will all be fools to walk away from this time without addressing the past and present complexities of our current turmoil. The country is groaning with pains we cannot ignore. This is a day of reckoning. Disconnect from tribe, opinion and rhetoric and seek truth. While we rightly confront issues of policing and policy, never forget that the deepest most long-lasting transformation that creates seismic culture-shifting impact, is that which occurs by the power of God in human heart.”

So, we can talk about moving a monument and making other changes all we want. But at the end of the day, what good is any of it if we can’t see that it’s our own hearts that need changing?

In another discourse, Jesus told the people, “… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Jesus made no exceptions. Regardless if a person looks different, believes differently or acts differently, we are called to love them. Does that make a person who steals and kills right? No. But despite that, we are to love them. I’m a sinner, yet Jesus still loves me. If He loves sinners, why can’t we?

But also, notice the statement Jesus follows up these two commandments with:

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In other words, if we do everything we can to love God and love each other — despite any differences we have — with sincerity and wholeheartedness, all other laws and commandments should be easy to follow. 

If we would love God and love and respect our common man in the same manner, there would be no racial injustice, there would be no police brutality and there be no violent protests or riots. 

Unfortunately, it’s shown to be easier said than done; however, I continue clinging to hope that our world can be changed for God’s glory.

Real change is a choice, and it starts in your heart. So, the question is, what will you choose?      

Taylor Beck is managing editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at taylor.beck@sandmountainreporter.com.

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