By Jon Hietbrink and Howie Meloch
It’s been more than a week since Michael Brown’s tragic death at the hands of police in St. Louis and in the midst of the continuing escalation of violence on the streets of Ferguson, it’s still hard to know how to engage. For some of us, his killing has (again) ripped open a wound laced with incredibly painful memories of personal and systemic racism—“How can this keep happening?!” For others of us, the shooting and its aftermath have provided a window into an experience that feels hard to understand.
There are many (some of whom are linked below) who have written deeply thoughtful and intelligent reflections in the wake of Michael Brown’s death—calls to action and advocacy, response and repentance. We don’t presume to have much to add to what’s already been said, but as we’ve prayed, mourned, and engaged during this difficult week, we wanted to share three brief thoughts for those of us who might feel paralyzed by uncertainty, unsure of how to engage at all in a situation that is so volatile and so painful for so many. Though there is of course much more that needs to be said and done in the wake of this tragedy, here are three humble first steps modeled on the life of Nehemiah that we hope might be an “onramp” for those of us looking for meaningful engagement around this painful situation.