Just Mercy (#522)
No one should be defined by their worst moment, and you shouldn't be better off under the law if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor an innocent. Bryan Stevenson in his New York Times best-seller, Just Mercy, confronts the inequities in American culture with a plea for real justice and real mercy. Wayne traveled to Tulsa, OK to discuss this powerful book with his friend Tom Mohn, who in addition to being a man of grace and compassion, also traveled to Selma, Alabama fifty years ago to participate in the march at Selma. They discuss race relations, illegal immigration, and how the current political climate rewards the conflict instead of seeking compassionate solutions. They discuss the importance of developing proximity to other cultures so we don't become trapped by only seeing the world through our own eyes.
Bryan Stevenson's Ted Talk, We Need to Talk About Justice
Order Stevenson's book, Just Mercy
Tom Mohn's book, Good Morning Brother Pilgrim
Previous Podcasts with Tom Mohn: The Things God Uses, The Gospel Jesus Preached and The Keeper and the Kept
Wayne's Travel Schedule
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Very timely podcast.
I think, as a caucasian male, I do an OK job at seeing African-Americans as simply people, not judging them by the color of their skin. Yet every so often, I catch myself in a judging situation, though not outwardly thankfully. I catch myself, but yet discouraged that I’ll never get to the point where the feelings will never come up.
I think we’ve come a long way in race relations, then the actions and words of Cam Newton and prominent African-Americans in film remind me, there is still a great divide
Cool, so many thoughts. I have always believed racism is wrong, immoral, unethical. With all the events of the last few years in the media, at first I was offended, thinking the media was blowing everything out of proportion and the people rioting were just being incited by people with private agendas. But gradually I had to start thinking, why are they so angry? I had a hard time conceiving that there was really that much racism still in our culture, because after all I’M not a racist! What I’ve come to is that people are genuinely hurt and injured, and even though to the best of my knowledge I don’t perpetuate racism, I have to accept that there is a great divide and I have not really done much to reach across it to find understanding. I guess I’m looking for the Lord to show me a way, haven’t found it yet, but I’m thinking it’s not enough to NOT be… there are hurting people out there and we’ll never get past the media hype if we don’t try to cross that divide as individuals to reach out to one another.
Thoughts on poverty culture: our welfare system rewards families with no father present, and punishes those where Mom and Dad stay together. Big problem.
Thoughts on capitalism: For most of human history, households produced what they consumed and consumed what they produced. The market economy, where households invest most of their labor in the market and obtain most of their goods from the market, is really new on the human history landscape. If the Lord tarries I think this system will continue to evolve. I think the big piece that is absent now is the idea of “enough.”
Thoughts on immigration: Economic forces really are forces of nature. The question should not be “should we allow immigration” — it will happen. You can’t prevent it with laws any more than you can prevent hurricanes or floods by law. The best we can do is manage it. If we stop trying to do the impossible we can come with actual solutions, screening processes and so forth to manage LEGAL immigration. And I don’t think the “hit to our economy” is a reason to prevent immigration. Yes, it will hurt. But it’s the right thing to do. All the things people say about Mexicans today they were saying about the Irish in the late 1800’s; and yet they came, they brought disease, poverty, ignorance, overcrowding all that. I am 3rd generation Irish Immigrant. I don’t think I have the right to say Mexicans can’t come here.
I worked with the poor for several years. What I gained from that experience was the loss of the rose-colored glasses I had regarding all those impoverished people. The truth is that sin exists on both sides of the tracks. Impoverished people are impoverished by their own sin. They pay in their own lives for the terrible choices they make and the sick games they play. And the sins the impoverished commit shocked this white suburban boy so badly, I eventually had to walk away from that work, because I was being lied to and played in every conversation I had.
It’s all too easy to glamorize poverty and demonize wealth. We can’t do that. We can’t point fingers at the rich for their sins if we don’t also point fingers at the poor. ALL have sinned.
If we ask for justice, we must be prepared for that sword to cut both ways. Otherwise, we commit a wrong to rectify one. Sadly, I believe that those who cry loudest for justice are not prepared in any way to receive the full force of justice they claim they want. Justice can be a terrifying reality that destroys those who are prepared to see the other guy punished but are not ready to pay for the injustices they themselves have committed.
Wayne, thanks so much for addressing this issue. I have so many brothers and sisters in Christ who have suffered under a system that demonizes them and uses them at the same time, and I pray for the hearts of those who say they know Jesus to hear his still small voice calling them to true justice.
Had this song running through my head during most of the podcast, and thought I would share:
I can’t find Tom’s email right this minute, but it would be great if you would pass this along to him if convenient, Wayne. I think he and Barb would like it.
Even though this was not the main issue of the podcast, I really appreciated the conversation between Wayne and Mr. Mohn regarding what they are choosing to dedicate their time and energy to in life – relationships over building a physical program. Sometimes it is easy for me to question what exactly am I doing to minister to others? My name no longer appears in the church bulletin as being in charge of this and that. What an encouragement for me to hear from these two gentlemen who are farther along on the journey, that the choice to invest in people and not programs has brought them peace. I know these things in my heart to be true but it is so helpful and encouraging to hear these words from other voices. Thank you!
Thanks for sharing this conversation. I came upon two quotes on twitter today, one before and one after listening to the podcast, that merge nicely with what was said:
“It is mercy, not justice or courage or even heroism, that alone can defeat evil.”
“Peace will only begin to be possible when we try to do justice to the side with which we do not feel sympathy, and earnestly try to call up in our own imagination the sorrows we have not suffered and the angers we do not feel.”
Illustrated London News, June 25, 1932
Hi, I live in South Africa where we are confronted with racial “hate” on daily base, and yes it is true that one tends to judge a person by what his/her fellow skin collour represents. This percieved representation most commonly does not represent the majority but rather those reacting to a fear inside or rather a void of feeling loved.
I have come to the realization that it is not a race issue but rather an issue. I find in situation where a single race is present the “powerful” would have the advantage. I have even experianced this where a christian religious minorities misuses “money power” to dominate an entire brotherhood. (sad)
I sometimes think that the world might just be a better place without media, unfortuanatly we seem to react to the fear caused by what we see and here from the world instead of listening to Father.
Is media then to blame, no the enemy using real life situations to manipulate our feelings towards one another and disgizing it as race issues are to blame.
It’s a war of spirits.
“”We’ve chosen the response of the deprivation of liberty for a historically aggrieved group, whose liberty in the United States was never firmly established to begin with,” Bruce Western – The Atlantic
Listening to Tom Mohn is always edifying and I look forward to reading his book. I don’t think the first clip of Mr. Stevenson’s TED talk was a good choice. I almost quit listening. In that clip, he seems to imply that the sole reason for mass incarceration is racial bias in the justice system. Listening on, I doubt he believes this and to the extent he does, I suspect it is just an outgrowth of his intense personal, on the ground work in this area. When you have a hammer…. When we worked with some inner city mothers desperately looking for a way to save their kids from government schools (where they knew the only skill their kids would learn was drug dealing), it was easy to see home schooling as the answer to everything. (Sadly, these mothers could not get over the confidence hump to home school – they were willing to try their own school, but government regulations don’t allow this without the huge expense of adhering to all the building regs.). My point is simply that mass incarceration (in which non-minorities are imprisoned at historically high rates) has complex, interrelated causes. The leading black Christian leaders in our community (a middle sized city), people whose life and service I am blessed to pray and work with, focus on the destruction of the family, from the murder of the unborn to lack of fathers and all that involves. The Body of Christ is many membered and all are necessary we are told so I am confident Mr. Stevenson’s work is a good one. But it is only one piece.
One of your first statements was I don’t want to get in the politics, but it was one of the first things you did. The black lives matter movement would be more embraced and honored if it was not politically motivated and funded by one of the most unkind and hate filled man. I’m writing this in July, months after the original airing of this podcast. We have had many police officers killed in the name of black lives matter. Many shootings by our men and women in blue that have killed a person of color. Most of these shootings are found to be justified, some are not. Many that call themselves Muslim our terroising, murdering and maiming hundreds almost daily and so many here are afraid to demand these individual and that ‘religion’ to obey the laws of this nation. May God cover us with His perfect mercy and peace…for it seems we rather embrace evil at this time.
I think Dr. Ben Carson would take exception to the thoughts that the poor don’t have the same opportunities. For his life has shown that not to be true. And there are many other examples of men and women of poverty and less opportunity soaring in this world. Now it is most likely true that a person of color will have a more difficult time finding this path. But a path is there. At this time in history a white man is very discrimnated in the business world many times.
So what do we do…?
We must keep our hearts open to each other and share the love of Christ. Equal opportunity does not equate to equal outcomes. For we all have our own responsiblities and choices to make. You touched on some of the failings of our overgrown entitlement system and how it has, intentionally(my opinion), made it very difficult to escape the trappings of ‘things’, ‘finances’ and ‘care’. All of which come with the baggage of government control.
One of the biggest downfalls is are continual path of destruction concerning the sanctity of life. Of the unborn to the aged. your guest touched on this subject but you were quick to sweep it away, in my opinion. Until we embrace the importance of ALL people…and do not use their status as weapons or justifications…we will continue to have individuals, groups, governments, etc., make these issues pawns for ideals.
What do we do…we need to love with the love of Christ. And with that love comes consequences; good, bad and indifferent.