April 30 2015

This week, I keep the communities and families of Nepal and Baltimore in prayerful consideration. While the nation-state of Nepal and the city of Baltimore are thousands of miles apart, and their respective tragedies seem completely unrelated, there is a connection between the two, in my mind’s eye.

Earthquakes (and typhoons, and hurricanes, and disease outbreaks) occurring in resource-challenged, poverty-laden communities have a disproportionately pervasive impact on the population. Infrastructure is weak or lacking. Housing and buildings are less well constructed. Medical, public health and emergency response capacities are often thin and compromised even before the onset of the disaster. This is why the death toll in a developing nation affected by such disasters is often unconscionably high — well into the thousands, compared to similar events in more developed nations.

The city of Baltimore — as in Ferguson, Missouri before it — while not physically devastated by an earthquake, is indeed experiencing shocking tremors of its civic psyche. Too many African-American communities like Ferguson and Baltimore suffer from a chronic lack of opportunity and hope, in combination with the visceral frustration of racism, marginalization, stigmatization and oppression. A Freddie Gray incident, then, triggers a shift in an already fragile fault line, and an earthquake of community protest and violence erupts. While it certainly can be argued that violence in any form is “senseless,” the violence of Ferguson and Baltimore “makes sense” to me, because I can understand its roots — even while, at the very same time, repudiating it. By comparison, the school shootings at Sandy Hook and Columbine make no sense to me whatsoever.

Continue reading on the Huffington Post.

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