This whole weekend everyone on campus, along with my friends back in Chicago have been proclaiming the tragedy of Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother. On yesterday the news of her nephew’s murder came to light in addition to the double murder on the campus of University of Central Arkansas. As for metro Atlanta, there was news of three drive-by shootings resulting in three deaths of three young black males.
So, yesterday one of my colleagues came into a praise team rehearsal and shared all of this with us at the beginning of rehearsal. A question I had been playing over in my head prior to that rehearsal was “What’s out of the ordinary about this?” It’s the same question my parents asked aloud when Jack Kennedy was killed in the plane crash after people on the news spoke of the great tragedy that always visted the Kennedy family: ”What’s so different about their tragedy from someone elses?”
Although I think the triple murder of one family would have warranted city-wide local coverage back in Chicago, and even daresay national coverage simply because it was one family that essentially murdered, it would not have garnered the same coverage had it not been the family of a star. The family members would not have been escorted to the coroners office to identify the bodies; helicopters would not have been hovering overhead to catch glimpses of the family walking into the coroners office; there would have been no mention of websites established to set up funds for the family on national news outlets.
I remember when I got to Maryland for my internship D.C. had just dealt with a plethora of homicides, seven alone in the first weekend I had got there and there was NOT the same amount of national coverage–in fact it had been normalised to the point that people had continued to go about daily life as though nothing had happened. Even one of the neighbors on the block which Hudson’s mother lived said they heard the gunshots but didn’t call police because gunshots were such a part of life it didn’t warrant a 911 call.
As I received text messages about them finding a body in the SUV and then confirming it as Hudson’s nephew with a bullet through his head, I replied on my phone “Sadly…I’ve moved on.”
Let the dead bury the dead.
Jesus in the Luke 9 passage admonishes a man who wishes to follow him to “let the dead bury the dead” when the man expresses his desire to bury his father. As insensitive as it sounds from Jesus, I believe it is a sentiment that makes sense: we have a responsibility as living souls to be concerned with the preservation of life. The dead are dead and are not coming back. Even in the pastoral care and counseling classes offered here at ITC, the professors makes the students use the word “dead” as opposed to other euphemisms such as “passed” or “deceased.”
As churches put up signs to remember the Hudson family, who put up signs to remember the family of Blair Holt who was shot to death on the 103rd street bus in May of 2007 coming home from school, actually protecting a female friend from the spray of bullets. Who put up signs to remember the other CPS students who were shot and killed during the last school years?
While the death of Jennifer Hudson’s family is tragic, it should not overshadow the fact that this happens across the country everyday. Not just in homicides, but in death in general. I had a friend text me that this was so sad because not just the family would be affected by this, but also the nephew’s school and teachers and classmates who would have to deal with the abscence of a student. Well, I told him that young kids die everyday, not just from bullets but from cancer and other diseases and illnesses, even car accidents.
Death is the ultimate statistic: 10 out of every 10 people die!
It’s time to move to the point of preventing the people from being killed in the first place. It does us NO good sitting around bemoaning the fact that these people are dead. This is not said out of insensitivity for the families of the deceased, but rather out of respect for the living; what are we really doing to preserve life of the already living.
Yes, I will be equally sad when my parents die, and my aunts and uncle and other older cousins if they preceed me in death, but as my mother said to much to frustration when I was younger, but it still holds true, “I’m not about to lay down in the street just because mama died.”
We must not lay down and die along with the dead. By all means, let the dead bury the dead.
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL