Commenting on the devastating violence that took place on Monday in Baltimore, outspoken Christian professional football player Benjamin Watson explained that the pain, anger and tension that the city and its residents are experiencing can only be healed through the power of Christ.
The 34-year-old 11-season NFL tight end, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, is a frequent commentator on current events and has never been afraid to let his Christian convictions be heard. On Tuesday, Watson took to Facebook to voice his thoughts on the rioting, looting, injuring of cops, destroying of police cars, and homes and businesses that took place in Baltimore after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in Baltimore police custody.
Watson noted that Baltimore is not the first city to go through a violent uprising over police negligence, and likely won't be the last. He further asserted that the problems Baltimore faces right now are shared by the nation as a whole.
"We have major problems as a nation. Yesterday, Ferguson burned. Tonight #Baltimore burns. Tomorrow, it will be another city in our homeland," Watson wrote. "Watching the coverage I'm hearing yet another version of a nauseatingly familiar narrative: violence by police reciprocated by violence by the community, reciprocated by violence by police reciprocated by.… It seems fruitless to continue to analyze, condemn, and respond to these dreadful episodes."
"Our problems are wholistic [sic] and common to the human heart. Hatred, prejudice, exploitation, pride, self righteousness, secrecy, and rebellion, manifest itself in the explosions we've seen over the last year, the last century, and the last millennia," Watson continued. "Tonight I see so much entrenched pain without remedy. Most are handling it without violence while a few are committing the unacceptable."
Watson compared the protests and violent acts in Baltimore to "smoke" and the policing and justice issues to fire that has created the smoke. He added that the only hope for racial reconciliation in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, will come through the "love of God."
"Tonight I see 'smoke,' but we must address the fire. The response that we are watching is just 'smoke' from years of hopelessness," Watson described. "After each situation the more I am convinced that the love of God for our fellow brothers and sisters who were created in His image is our only hope for reconciliation."
He further argued that the path toward reconciliation requires more than just "holding hands and singing."
"But the only way we can even see Him that way is if God illuminates our view and changes our thought process. I'm not talking about holding hands and singing. Love is an action that compels one to treat another with dignity and respect even if they don't deserve it," Watson opined. "It pushes for education and opportunities for those in poverty. It gives identity and self worth. It administers justice without abuse. It honors authority and promotes peace. It is not weak, but strong for what is right!"
With so much angst present in a troubled city, Watson asserted that only Jesus Christ has the wisdom to help Baltimore prevail in one of its darkest hours.
"Tonight I see a brokenness that only Christ can give us the wisdom and power to mend," he continued. "We, and most importantly, the body of Christ, must stand for justice in all areas, for all people. We must set the standard for the correct way to treat people. … Tonight I pray for the pastors, leaders, police and community of Baltimore."