Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MJ Speaks... Now What?

This week Michael Jordan broke issued a statement on the recent violence and tension between police and the African-American community. Additionally, he donated $1 million to each of two organizations attempting to improve relations between law enforcement and black communities. Because it's MJ his statement made headlines on ESPN and other news agencies. You can read it HERE.

In my opinion Jordan said pretty much nothing. I heard Carmelo Anthony describe Jordan's statement as "brilliant", and perhaps it was encouraging to have such a prominent African-American speak up on the subject. The statement issued by Jordan was fairly short. It identified that the nation has a problem and expressed regret for that problem before announcing his donations. The following statement was about as profound as Jordan got,
We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.
While I'm confident those organizations appreciate the donations they received, Jordan's statement does little more than say, "Thanks for the work you guys are doing to stand up against violence and injustice." But let's not pretend that this statement changes anything. Incarceration rates will not change tomorrow because MJ issued a statement. If Jordan really wants to initiate change he will need to engage many other community leaders in the conversation and raise considerably more funds for training, education and lobbying efforts. Perhaps he'll do these things.

It's easy to point fingers at others.

Sports talk radio (and blogging) encourages members of the public with zero training and professional experience to criticize and second guess professional athletes, coaches and general managers with years of experience.

The MJ statement reminds us that words are cheap. We all have potential influence in our families, workplaces, communities, and churches. If all we do is talk and criticize, then we've become part of the problems. To translate potential influence into actual influence we must roll up our sleeves and get involved.

The incarnation of Jesus, God becoming flesh, provides the ultimate example of not settling for words when action was possible. (Philippians 2:5-8) God could have relied upon His commandments, the numerous laws He'd given Israel. He could have said that the messages of the prophets communicated His will sufficiently. Instead, Jesus left the throne of heaven to be born in a manger. When words weren't enough, he acted to make a difference for us.

Before criticising MJ, or anyone, ask yourself, "What am I actively involved in beyond my direct responsibilities?" "What am I doing to make the world a better place?Be like Jesus, not Mike.


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