Steve Heronemus

I choose to speak out

“Where are you supposed to be? was the first thing an angry policeman said to me, It was Homecoming weekend at Valparaiso University and some of the guys participating in an overseas study program decided to ditch our tour guide and play football in a park, using a hairbrush for a ball.
“Where are you supposed to be?  “was the question that rang out as 4 police cars emptied their passengers, 4 police each in body armor with raised automatic rifles. The correct answer they were looking for was clearly not “Here.”
This was 1980,  and we were in communist East Germany.Somehow I was suddenly, silently, elected spokesman for the group as no one else offered an answer. I was terrified.
This one incident does not grant me license to speak for or about our black or brown sisters and brothers who live in fear of those who are the apparatus of “justice” in our country, but I do know of terror bathed in the flashing lights of a police car.
The USA is not East Germany in the era of the “evil empire.” We are a country built on ideals of liberty and equal justice under the law. We are a nation that believes punishment should fit the crime, after being found guilty of an alleged criminal act.
And I am a Christian, bound by the Gospel example of Jesus Christ to work for justice on behalf of the poor, outcast, imprisoned and foreign among us. In the words of Russell Moore, 
“… a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. … It’s time for us in Christian churches to not just talk about the gospel but live out the gospel by tearing down these dividing walls not only by learning and listening to one another but also by standing up and speaking out for one another.”
I, for one, choose to stand and speak.