It was late in the evening, Deb was sleeping, and I was finishing up some correspondence when I received a text from a friend asking what was happening in the South End (our Boston neighborhood). I didn’t know what he was talking about until I checked the Boston news and started watching out our studio window. I began to hear sirens and soon the street traffic picked up from the all too familiar coronavirus malaise. Then I noticed groups of young men roaming the streets with bags full of looted goods from local stores. Finally, across the street at the CVS, the front door window was smashed and the store broken into. A lone police officer happened to be close and he singlehandedly apprehended the perpetrator, but it was not long until a posse of forty or more police offices came riding up on their bicycles. Later, around 2:30 or 3:00 AM the street calmed down and I was able to go to bed.
In the morning, I quickly walked the city and was amazed and disheartened at the damage that had been done to businesses all across Boston. At the same time, I was encouraged by individuals and groups of people who came to the center of Boston with their brooms and other cleaning tools, prepared to clean up the mess made by lawless looters.
I asked one young man if he was with a group, and he said, “No, I’m not with anyone, I’m just a kid from the North Shore who wants to help clean up the mess. A little later, I interacted with a family who came into the city center to help put things back in order. Finally, when walking across the Boston Commons, three men on a garbage truck drew my attention. I asked them if they thought the riots and looting would happen again that night. One representing all three stated, “I don’t know if it will happen again tonight, but if it does, we will be here in the morning to clean up our city!” I spontaneously replied, “I love you guys.” We had a mutually understood moment. Two of those men were black and I am white, but we share some common values as all people do, because all are made in God’s image. The rioting and looting that happened in Boston was not a racial thing, but a lawless thing. Blacks and whites were both involved. Lawless people took cynical advantage of an opportunity to do what is reprehensible.
I have much to say about the racial tension that is now rampant in the United States, especially the Christian response to it, but that will need to wait for another blog posting.
But for now, let me say I am so thankful that in the midst of a man-made disaster, I found people in the city, who share my love for the city. All of us are made in the image of God, and sometimes that image shows.