A picture of an African American boy handing water out to police men lined up with their shields and weapons is making its way around the web. The picture, posted by Prophetic Deliverance Ministries senior pastor Bishop M. Cromartie, provides a beautiful picture of humanity in the midst of destruction since the funeral of Freddie Gray.
As my friends share another photo of clergy, black and white, walking hand-in-hand to protest peacefully, I’ve seen phrases like, “Share this. It won’t be shared broadly,” as though only depressing news is coming out of Baltimore.
If we rely on our Facebook feeds or cable news for news, we might not see the peaceful protests or the little black boy handing out water to the police. We tend to see the fire, the destruction, the anger, the hate.
Race relations in our country are continually being tested, a battle for faith and trust in our country. As tensions remain high, we all have the power of telling the news to our friends through social media.
If your newsfeed is anything like mine, it’s full of pictures of Baltimore going up in flames as raging rioters become the narrative of the day. We see lives destroyed and like a swarm of bees we find our source and begin to sting.
It’s one thing to bring awareness to an issue, but are we sharing fairly? Have we succumbed to fearmongering and sensationalism, or are there ways to tell more than one story?
Hidden under the news of destruction and vitriol are also stories of quiet faithfulness. We may not see the stories and photos of people cleaning up, caring for one another and praying together. And when we do see it, we are reminded that many in Baltimore love, care and work for the image of God displayed in humanity.
Where is there good news?
What we read or watch and then share rarely reflects the whole picture of an event. Breaking news stories are unfolding before our eyes, often with incomplete details.
Watching the Baltimore riots, for example, leaves us absolutely weary and saddened—as it should. The city has been infiltrated by National Guard up against teenage rioters. This information can either bring you to despair (the future of America) or cause you to rejoice (adults are protesting peacefully).
But what if we take a closer look at the community and reconsider the narratives we receive and share?
Tucked away in a news story about the riots includes these important lines: “For most of Monday, though, the city was generally subdued and even turned hopeful as a band played in the street and people sang and prayed.” My feed certainly wasn’t featuring a subdued city, rather a city being torn apart.
Most of the news feeds weren’t featuring a hopeful community with a band playing in the streets. Rather, we saw trash cans set ablaze. And where were pictures of people who sang and prayed? Many of us would be hard-pressed to name one specific piece of good news coming out of Baltimore, perhaps because we aren’t finding and sharing the entire story.
Sharing the big picture
Seeking the whole truth and nothing but the truth is vital to not only the news we read but also in what we share. We should seek to understand the whole picture before we can speak truth.
When we only share parts of a story, we aren’t being truthful. Instead, we might be propagating a narrative we prefer rather than a narrative that is true. But we can’t speak the truth in love to our neighbor if we aren’t seeking to know and share truth.
Yes, the Baltimore riots were indeed true. But it wasn’t the whole story, as there were peaceful protests, praying citizens and now people of good faith are working to repair the city. There is unity and faithfulness in Baltimore that isn’t on display, a part of the news that is just as radical as the riots.
Trillia Newbell is the author of “United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity” and “Fear and Faith: Finding Peace Your Heart Craves.” She is director of community outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention.