I have no special insights into the particulars of the Grand Jury decision in Missouri. There is an underlying sadness, however, that afflicts our society and it stems from something greater than any particular event.
The event itself obviously was weighted with tragedy, and nothing can be done to restore a young man to life. As for the complicated juridical proceedings, I don't know enough to have any opinion that can be useful to anyone.
I do know that on that August afternoon last summer, something went terribly wrong.
It is so easy to turn from this event to broader categories of problems that trouble many people: racial tensions and prejudice, faulty law enforcement practices, recklessness, pretexts for looting and stirring up riots, drug abuse, the dangers of the streets, the militarization of the police.
These are real problems that cast great shadows over the lives of people. The explosion of violence is not just in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. There is a violence of the emotions and of the mind that swirls inside all of us. Some of us express outrage, others seek to take advantage of things for profit or political advantage, and others try to escape through apathy or simply take sensationalistic interest in the latest news as an anecdote to chronic boredom.
I don't know who exactly is guilty of what in Ferguson, or in these many and various other acts of open or hidden violence. But none of us is innocent.
We are all implicated and taken up into this dysfunctional social spiral. The external violence of brutality, crime, and war are a reflection of the internal violence and disorientation that we carry around inside ourselves and that so often poisons our relationships with others.
None of the "isms" on our political or social spectrum can resolve this fundamental problem.
Our hope is that the real reason for living -- for being focused in our energies as human beings -- can take hold of our lives and then remind us of the value of each moment we live. Only if we encounter a reason for hope that is greater than our fears will we emerge from the dark and become creative, constructive, and able to help one another.