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Ron Pickell's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 2 people, including Ron Pickell, people smiling  A RELEVANT MESSAGE FROM PASTOR RON

Our nation has been in mourning over the last several days over another horrific death of a black man by the hands of a brutal police officer. It happened again. Every time we witness one of these senseless killings we hope and pray it is the last, but it isn’t. It never is. There’s always one more the next week or month. The protests are the cumulative voice of a nation that has seen more needless, senseless deaths than we ever want to see. They are the protests of a people fed up with discriminate brutality and injustice.

I could go on and on, but more articulate pens have already expressed the feelings of this injustice better than mine so I won’t keep going. However, I do feel that I have to say something – I want to say something. I should have said more before now. I should have made my voice known when I heard the stats of over crowded prison cells filled with black males. I should have expressed concern about the racial profiling of black males for being stopped and questioned just for being black or for cruising young black men out on the street. I should have spoken up about injustice and discrimination. I should have, but I didn’t. I did what the majority of white men – the privileged who may not have personally knelt on the neck of any black person, but like the three Minneapolis police officers in my silence, by not speaking up, by not letting my voice be heard, I too have been complicit in our national injustice.

Apologies seem hollow, but my heart goes out to the Floyd family who now have to watch the video play over and over again with their brother crying out for his life. My heart goes out to them because I think of how I would feel if that were one of my brothers or my sons. I’m not sure I could be as composed as them or to ask for the nation to stop the carnage and looting. I’m not sure who I would choose to direct my anger to, but my heart goes out to them and to the collective body of black and brown skinned people who feel and live with this discrimination and injustice day after day.

Please, please forgive us, dear brothers and sisters, and help us understand the ways we have held you in our white privileged choke hold for hundreds of years. Please let’s find a way to understand and appreciate one another. Let’s work together to appreciate one another and work together for the good of our nation and for the planet. Let’s turn the tide. Let’s take another step forward in racial equality. May the words of Jesus help us – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”

I believe this is the way forward. I don’t know what it’s like being black. I don’t know what it is like to be looked down upon or to be considered less important than white counterparts. I don’t know what that feels like, but I want to learn, to listen and to hear. I need you to tell me and I need to understand!

What I appreciate and how I want to be treated is how I want to learn to treat others. It’s really this simple. I know I would not want four police officers holding me down while I am handcuffed begging for air and to suffocate me until I can breathe no longer. I would not want anyone to do that to me or anyone I know. I would want someone to listen to me, help me up, have me face the consequences for my bad behavior, yes, but at least receive a fair hearing – to be considered innocent until proven guilty. I would want to be treated just how those police officers would want to be treated if it was them being arrested.

All of this seems so small and so little, but hopefully it is a step in the right direction and if we all express our disgust for such egregious acts maybe we can change things. Maybe we can move a little closer to a “more perfect union.” Maybe we can get along, appreciate one another and work together instead of against one another. Maybe we can move past our fears and learn from one another. Maybe we can do more than make America great. Maybe we can make America kind, peaceful – a city on a hill. Maybe we can begin to live out our own words etched on Lady Liberty beckoning those seeking asylum and freedom – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

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LIFE Adventist Church is a diverse community of students, professionals, seniors, and families of different religious backgrounds and cultures. Together we celebrate the great work of God for Berkeley and the world. We are broken people who are being put back together by a loving and gracious King while learning to love God and one another. We are on a journey together with Christ and we invite you to experience the kingdom of God with us at Life Church!

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It's time to listen, feel and breathe in the refreshing wind of the Spirit and chase the movement of God among us. The church has always achieved the most when it had nothing but each other and the Spirit of God moving them along. What will God say to us?

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