Forgiveness and Justice: Hearing Both of the Jean’s

Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, offered a remarkable moment of forgiveness toward Amber Guyger today in the courtroom. But his Mother said deeply important things too. We must hear them both.

Brandt offered forgiveness and an embrace to Amber Guyger. As DA John Creuzot said, almost nobody in the judicial system sees moments like that, ever.

I have no doubt that it was heartfelt and sincere on his part. If he is going to move forward with his life, finding a way to forgive her and let go of hate is essential.
Hate can truly destroy us from the inside. As Frederick Buechner has said, hate is like a feast where you’re enjoying eating the meat…only to realize that you’re eating yourself.

On a PERSONAL level, then, that moment between those two human beings was holy and beautiful and brought tears to our eyes.
Unless we find ways to offer personal forgiveness, we are sunk as a society.

Here’s the video, if you missed it…

I’m seeing some criticism of the moment on social media tonight.
But, who am I…or who is anyone…to judge the sincerity of that moment between the two of them? Only God can create moments like that. He just might have reacted in anger and rage. If he’d done that, would we judge and critique him? I’m going to take it as an honest and sincere moment between two human beings, in a world that is desperate for that.

But, Botham’s Mother also had a righteous call too. Maybe you missed it? It was about 20 minutes after her son spoke from the stand. We deserve to hear her too.

HER statement was about our city, and about policies of policing that need to change. Her call was for us to make SYSTEMIC change.

Here’s the video, if you missed it…

“There is much more to be done in the city of Dallas…”
“Our lives must move on, but our lives must move on with change…”
“There has got to be a better day, and that better day starts with every one of us…the City of Dallas needs to clean up inside…”

In a real sense, you saw these two family members saying quite different things. But each in their own way, quite necessary things too.

brandtandallisonjeanTo truly honor Botham’s memory, we must somehow do all of what they are both calling us to do.

We must find a way not to demonize ANYONE.
And, to the extent that God gives us the calling, we are called to forgive. Forgiveness, however, can never be demanded or insisted upon. And perhaps no one outside the person who offers it can truly understand it.

But, to honor him, we must also name that certain systems of training also caused harm not only to his life but also to officers such as Amber Gugyer. Those systems must change. We must name that there are still systems of White Supremacy that benefit people like me, and disadvantage people like Botham.
Botham’s Mother is absolutely right about that. Change must happen. Not just, however, to keep the innocent safe, but also to keep *officers* safe too.

There is work to do in our city.

Personal work…justice work…

We need, as people of faith, the witness of both Brandt and Allison Jean.

My Lord, what an afternoon we have seen.
What a metaphor for it all.


Further reading…

Thoughts after Day One of the Trial.

Thoughts at the end of Week One of the Trial.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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