Editor's note: This story is the fifth in a series of five in which Will County black male pastors respond to the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed.
Two factors contributed to the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests and riots, according to Lonnie Posley, senior pastor of New Canaanland Christian Church in Joliet.
These are the devaluing of human life and the silencing of certain voices.
Posley feels the combination are a “ticking time bomb waiting to go off” and that Joliet is a “powder keg” or trouble waiting to happen if something doesn’t change.
He explained why George Floyd’s death resonated with some many people.
“Now we’ve heard of individuals being killed,” Posley said. “But we watched an individual being killed right in front of us.” It’s not just brown people or black people or Hispanic people that’s upset. It’s the world at large that’s upset at what took place.”
People need to know that, although police offers are called to protect and serve, police officers today look vastly different than the police officers of his youth.
“They wore patent leather shoes, polyester pants and white shirts that were iron and crisp,” Posley said. “All they had was guns.”
Many of today’s police offers now have steel-toed shoes, armor-piercing guns, bullet proof vests, and they carry tear gas and metal batons. They look "threatening" when the put on their black gloves, Posley said
Posley feels that if human rights were respected, society wouldn’t even need a civil rights bill.
“Human life is much greater than civil rights,” Posley said. “Atrocities take place when human life is devalued…. “Racism is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Think about the the ‘isms.’ They’re wrong.”
Because Posley’s own lineage is diverse, his outlook on life is different than the outlook of many other people, he said.
As an artist, Posley doesn’t understand intolerance.
“I use all the colors that are available to me,” Posley said. “I don’t limit myself to all black or all white. What makes the world beautiful is the diversity of colors.”
Posley said whoever is in power makes the rules. When God is in charge, people tend do what’s right, what’s true, he said. But the pursuit of truth and freedom is not necessarily easy.
“Truth will get you into trouble; truth will get your killed,” Posley said. “But truth also creates freedom…and people are willing to face trouble – not get into trouble – because they want to create freedom.”
The solution, he feels, is honest communication.
Posley said he loves that God gave man a mind to think. He referred to the quote oft-attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
People need to listen to each other more, Posley said. Words have meaning and carry substance, he added.
"I may not agree with your opinion and your thoughts," Posley said. "But when I shut down your voice, when we shut down voices, we can't take into account what people are saying."
Posley said people know what the problem is. And they need to work towards open, honest communication with each other no matter how painful that communication is, he said.
Posley said it will take time but he believes God’s word when it says, “Nothing is too hard for God.”
“That’s the reason why I know it can be done,” Posley said.