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Jonathan Capehart and the Beauty of Humility

One of the saddest characteristics of fallen humanity is the refusal to be humble or honest when faced with the truth. It's much easier to defend ourselves, make excuses for error, or simply slink off into the sunset as if we'd never sinned.

Not Jonathan Capehart. If George Bush the elder was still giving out his "thousand points of light" awards, then Capehart certainly deserves one.

Never heard of Jonathan Capehart? You should.

Last week he showed America the awesome beauty of humility.

We must first set the stage before we introduce our hero. 

No doubt you remember the tragic shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown's accomplice during the prior convenience store robbery and then scuffle with Wilson was a young man named Dorian Johnson--who witnessed the shooting.

Both Johnson and Brown are African-Americans. Officer Wilson is white.

Dorian Johnson told waiting reporters that Michael Brown had tried to flee from Wilson, was shot in the back, and then gunned down while raising his hands in a "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" pose.

Johnson's "testimony" was quickly trumpeted by race hustlers and politicians around the nation and used to stoke racial bias and police brutality fires. Fueled provocatively by activists such as Al Sharpton and more indirectly by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, both Ferguson and other American cities experienced weeks of demonstrations and chaos--all because of the narrative of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot."

Even a group of US Representatives (most of them black) held their hands up in sympathy as did a group of St. Louis Rams football players before an NFL game. In Ferguson, the riots--based on the perceived racism of Officer Darren Wilson--caused 250 million dollars of damage to local businesses.

And nobody screamed at the top of their lungs "Stay Out, Don't Loot!"

As the riots and debate spread across America, crowds in New York began to chant "Death to the Cops," and two NYPD officers were shot and killed in revenge.

One of them--Rafael Ramos--was a distance student at the seminary where I teach.

We were heart-broken.

Yet, from the beginning there was strong evidence that the shooting of Michael Brown was not racially motivated nor had Michael Brown been killed with his hands in the air. At the very least, people should have been encouraged to give the justice system time to arrive at all the facts before making a judgment.

We used to believe in the biblical principle that people are innocent until proven guilty.

But many refused that common sense response and turned the tragedy into a national debate and disaster--all based on the mantra of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." Stores were looted and burned, cops were killed, and even big-city mayors like New York City's Bill de Blasio alienated their entire police forces by implying that law-abiding citizens were unsafe around the police.

Then on March 4, 2015, after months of investigation, Eric Holder's Justice Department presented the nation with the facts about what really happened to Michael Brown at the hands of Offier Darren Wilson. Here is the brief summary: 

  • Brown had brazenly robbed a convenience store of cigarillos and Wilson, on patrol nearby, had heard the report and arrived on the scene. 
  • He found Brown and Dorian Wilson illegally walking in the middle of the street and ordered them to move to the sidewalk. When they resisted his orders, Wilson cut them off with his car.
  • Brown reached in the police car and tried to grab Wilson's weapon. A fight ensued in which Wilson was struck at least twice by the 6 foot 4 inch, 300 pound Brown. Wilson is also 6'4" but weighs nearly one hundred pounds less. He said the fight was like "a five year with Hulk Hogan" and that Brown had the eyes of a "demon."
  • The two scuffled with the weapon and Wilson finally fired it, getting Brown to move away from the door. Wilson then chased Brown and commanded him to stop and get on the ground. 
  • Brown refused, and grunting like an animal, began charging Officer Wilson who fired a number of shots which killed his aggressor. 

If you want to read the Justice Department report on what actually happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, you can read it here.

The DOJ report completely exonerated Darren Wilson and proved that the entire premise of the months of debate and rioting had been based on a lie. (A second report indicted the Ferguson police department on some bad racial practices and over zealous ticket-writing.)

But there never was "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." There was evil aggression and resisting arrest that put Officer Wilson's life in danger.

Yet many bought the lie told by race baiters, politicians and a complicit mainstream media.

You would think after the truth came out that, that Al Sharpton and many others would go on nation-wide television and humbly admit that they were wrong and that the lie they had perpetrated had led to millions of dollars of unnecessary damage and to property and the police.

Nobody has come forth so far except our hero--Jonathan Capehart. He is an African-American journalist and television personality who writes for The Washington Post's PostPartisan blog and is a contributor for MSNBC.

Capehart came on camera and was honest and humble about being wrong. He admitted to the nation that the "Hands up, Don't Shoot!" slogan had been a charade--a bald-faced lie.  You can watch his confession here.

Capehart had the humility to admit error. He said  “I did it because it was the right thing to do. 

Humility is always right. It's a beautiful quality of God Himself that both the American people and political leaders need more of right now. 

To be humble is to be real and honest. By definition it is to be brought low--to "come down" from a place of pride and dishonesty into the light of reality.

Here are  my Top Ten attributes of the character quality of humility:

1.  A servant's attitude, putting others first above yourself (Mark 10:43,44).

2.  Not being defensive or reactionary toward people and situations (Numbers 12 - a story about Moses).

3.  Having a quiet and peaceable spirit (1 Peter 3:4 and Proverbs 9:8).

4.  Being more interested in others' welfare than your own (Philippians 2:3,4).

5.  Being submissive and recognizing the need for authorities in your life (Hebrews 13:17).

6. Loving people and building them up, not tearing them down (Ephesians 4:1-3).

7. Having an obedient heart toward God and others (Luke 17:10).

8.  Being thankful or positive, not bitter and vindictive (Ephesians 5:18-20).

9.  Having no desire for applause or publicity (Numbers 11:24-29). 

10. Being honest and transparent about life and your own shortcomings (Luke 18:9-13).

When a nation or its leaders are not humble, their pride produces chaos, viciousness, bitterness and destruction. Think of how the growing avalanche of dishonesty and pride after the Ferguson shooting incited rioters into the streets, caused the looting and destruction of buildings and property, and led to the wanton killing of other people.

Pride is ugly. It destroys people, relationships and even nations. Humility, however, is a godly quality which is beautiful beyond measure.

Can you imagine the following opposite scenario (that could still happen today). 

President Obama and Eric Holder come on nation-wide television and say this to the American people:

"The shooting of Michael Brown has been proven to be one of self-defense by Officer Wilson. We were wrong to imply otherwise and want to ask your forgiveness for inadvertently fanning the fires of racial tension in our nation. 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot!' was not a factor in Michael Brown's death. We are deeply sorry, especially to the business owners of Ferguson who were looted and police forces who were maligned."

After their confession, Al Sharpton uses his MSNBC program to do the same. All over the nation, African American leaders begin to follow suit,  repenting of their rush to judgment and condemnation of the innocent. The Congressional Black Caucus takes to the floor of the US House of Representatives and instead of raising they hands, they lower them, indicating their humility and repentance.

People begin to flood the streets in major cities, not to demonstrate and loot, but to sing "Amazing Grace" while holding lowered hands as a mark of contrition and admission of error. Sunday services are packed with pastors confessing their own prejudices and people humbling themselves over their sinful pride.

In Ferguson, looters begin returning the things they'd stolen to the store owners who were violated. And around the nation, donations pour in to restore the fortunes of the Ferguson business community which leads to a renaissance in the city.

Howard Schultz does a new TV ad encouraging his baristas to write on their iconic cups "Grace Together" instead of "Race Together." This leads to many humble confessions and expressions of love and understanding between people over morning coffee (not political discussions).

A nation is changed through the beauty of humility. Wouldn't that be wonderful?  

Here is the truth:

Pride and dishonesty bring revolution.

The beauty of humility brings revival.

Thanks, Jonathan Capehart, for showing us the way. May our leaders and entire nation follow your example.




Reader Comments (1)

I can say AMEN...
I can say what is wrong with everyone else...
I can wish all the other people would get their act together...
But unless I pray and change my own way I can only expect there to be NO change!
Thank you Mr. Capehart for providing an example through your leadership!!
March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Ivy

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