In the wake of recent violence in the civil order, there has been a resurgence of the movement known as Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, this has invoked two reactionary movements called All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. As a Catholic, I have problems with all of them.
The problem with the reactionary movements is that their apparent goal is to negate the valid message of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is disingenuous to say that All Lives Matter includes black lives. It may be true, but remember that saying Black Lives Matter isn’t the same as saying Only Black Lives Matter. The obvious question is, what’s the point of the counter movement if not to draw attention away from the real issues trying to be raised by the Black Lives Matter group? The problem with the Blue Lives Matter movement is that is seems to be put up in competition against the Black Lives Matter movement – at least that is how it is presented by those who pass along the message. Again, the real problem with all three of these movements is their open antagonism with each other. It is as if each considers the existence of the others to be a threat to themselves. It doesn’t have to be this way.
As a Catholic, I am reminded of the various organizations within the Church. What would our reaction be if two movements arose in competition against each other, one saying the corporeal works of mercy matter and the other saying the spiritual works of mercy matter? Such a thing would not make any sense to us. There are so many different needs that it is impossible for one person or group to focus on all of them. Mother Church, in her wisdom, allows her children to form different groups that each focus on different needs. These different groups work cooperatively because they all recognize two things. They recognize that even though they focus on different needs in the world, they share a common purpose that encompasses all of those needs. They also recognize that those needs the other groups address are just as legitimate as their own.
Wouldn’t it be better if these “___ Lives Matter” movements thought of each other in this way? What if they could work cooperatively instead of as though they have some point to make against the other movement? Imagine if the Blue Lives Matter movement worked with the Black Lives Matter movement to address the issues of how blacks are treated by the police? It is useless to say that this does not happen, or even that it is only a minority of the officers. It happens. It is a reality and it needs to be addressed. Imagine if the Black Lives Matter movement immediately and publically denounced the members of its movement who advocate violence against the police? What would happen on a societal level if, immediately after some idiot in their movement spewed that kind of vile hatred, other spokesmen of the movement contacted the news and held a joint press conference alongside police officers denouncing such statements and vowing to work together with the police to end the violence and mistrust on both sides?
I do not pretend that change would happen overnight. Trust is something that is built slowly, but it is worth the time and effort. If Blue Lives Matter, then the police need to address the bad and corrupt officers who give the rest a bad name. If Black Lives Matter, then the black community needs to denounce black on black violence just as much as it denounces mistreatment by the police. They need to work together to get rid of the bad officers and get criminals out of their neighborhoods. If this is not done, the all of the good officers will quit – leaving only the bad officers – and real criminals will continue to feel protected by the very people who are their victims.