The last few days have been incredibly tense. Last Saturday, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. The following day, a candlelight service which was supposed to honor Brown turned violent. This sparked a series of aggressive and ugly protest over the last several days. Some protestors even turned to looting and vandalism. Over 60 people have been arrested and several police officers have been injured throughout the protests.
Yesterday everything changed. In the afternoon, it was announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol was taking over security in the Ferguson area. Ronald S. Johnson, the captain of the highway patrol and a Ferguson native, was put in charge of security. Johnson vowed that police security would change. He took away the street blockades. He set up a media staging center so the people could exercise their right to protest. He called on the officers working the crowds to take off their gas masks. Beyond all else, he began walking among the protestors. He hugged, kissed, and shared laughs with protestors and community members.
The entire vibe has changed. The tension has lifted significantly. One man even stopped to tell Captain Johnson that his niece had been tear gassed earlier this week. The man asked, “What would you say to her?” Johnson reached out his hand and replied: “Tell her Captain Johnson is sorry and he apologizes.” While protestors are still angry, at least for the time being things have calmed down considerably.
Much can be learned from the way Captain Johnson handled the recent protest. He replaced tear gas and tension with hugs, kisses, soft answers, and peaceful solutions. Too often we get overly passionate and fiery about situations. Even if we all want for the situation resolved, it can get stirred up simply by being angry and harsh.
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Likewise, verse 18 states, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.
Whether it is in the church, in our homes, or with someone else, let’s keep calm and give soft answers. Doing so will foster solutions and heal hurt feelings. By following the above Scriptures, there is no end to the anger and problems that can be avoided.