This is the picture. Of a young black boy hugging a police officer. A news article said the following:
Devonte Hart (the little boy) stood on the outskirts of the Portland rally, about 10 feet away from Barnum (the police officer). He was trembling, his mom said. Tears were rolling down his cheeks.
"Devonte was struggling. He wouldn't speak. He was inconsolable," his mother Jennifer, a white lady who adopted him wrote. "My son has a heart of gold, compassion beyond anything I've ever experienced, yet struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police... He wonders if someday when he no longer wears a 'Free Hugs' sign around his neck, when he's a full-grown black male, if his life will be in danger for simply being."
Barnum told The AP he noticed the boy and wondered what was wrong. So he motioned for him to come up to his motorcycle.
The officer asked for his name and shook his hand. He also asked Devonte where he went to school (he is homeschooled), what he did this summer (he traveled around the U.S. with his family), and what he likes to do (art). The tears stopped.
Barnum has two teenage sons and has worked for Portland's police force for 21 years. While continuing to talk to Devonte, he looked at the "Free Hugs" sign on the ground and asked if he might get a hug as well.
Devonte put his arms around the officer.
"Knowing how he struggled with police, his bravery and courage to catch my eye and approach me were impressive," Barnum said. "And it's a blessing for me that I didn't miss an opportunity to impact this child."
Hart said the moment was about "listening to each other, facing fears with an open heart."
The tears streaming down that young boys eyes are real, they are tears streaming from a very real place, just like his mom said - he wonders if, just because he is black if one day he too will be killed. I don't want to comment on Ferguson, I want to comment on the reality of what the enemy has done to our world through division, disunity and racism. South Africa knows the deep scar of racism, so does America and so many other nations and countries. It breaks my heart to think that people can hate each other because of a colour, when we all share the sparkling reality that God created us all. It is not only racism that divides us but our perspectives and prejudices. A few weeks ago I watched a video where a big happy teddy bear was standing in the middle of a town square. The bear had a sign around his neck saying "Free Hugs." Loads of people, old and young came streaming to the bear and giving happy hugs! People were all smiles, they were open and loving, vulnerable and open. At the end of the video, the bear took off its suit and inside the suit was a young autistic boy. A boy who never gets hugs because of peoples prejudice against him, the video says the only way he could get a hug was by disguising himself so that the world could not see him.
My heart breaks when I realise that this is how the world is and yet our Messiah, He went to where others did not want to go. He went on to a deserted street to encounter a lonely leper, he pulled a bleeding woman in close and called her daughter, he went over to the Samaritan women who was even by her own peoples standards, immoral. By the Jewish standard, she was despised and by the worlds standards (and the disciples) she was a woman - which meant she was less. Yet, that was where you would always find Yeshua, by those whom the world considered less. By those who had to draw water at 12 midday, not the usual time for a woman to be drawing water, but a woman who had to go draw water when others weren't around. Yeshua had such a deep love for the broken and the crushed, the hurting and especially the people whom others shunned.
This image in ferguson captures something that deeply stirs our hearts. The desire for us to see one another as people, to love one another as the other and to touch one another heart to heart.
I think of Paul's written adage, to greet one another with a holy kiss. I believe it is not so much the kiss that matters, but the ability to greet one another by seeing one another. By truly showing that we accept our fellow brother or sister, that our glasses are put aside and our desire to see someone else is what matters. Imagine how much better our congregations, our marriages, our relationships and essentially our nations would be if we could do that....