Marvin Gaye released the album “What’s Going On” in 1971.
The song by the same name challenged listeners to cast their gaze on current events and ask this perplexing question.
While the single gained the most popularity, the entire album addressed a variety of issues, from the Vietnam War to neglected ghettos.
Barry Gordy, Motown’s CEO, did not like the song, suggesting it lacked the upbeat mood that Motown was famous for at the time.
Gaye, however, did not relent. He claimed he would never record another song for Motown unless the album was released. It was, and it was a hit.
While the song focuses primarily on the Vietnam War, the opening lines are germane for us today: “Mother, mother. There‘s too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother. There’s too many of you dying. You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some loving here today.”
Watching the news this week, Gaye’s prophetic words echo in our ears and prick our hearts.
The trial of Derek Chauvin is underway in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The former police officer restrained Floyd by placing his knee on the suspect’s neck for eight minutes and 15 seconds. Even after Floyd lost consciousness, Chauvin continued with this restraint for another minute and 20 seconds.
Floyd died in police custody over allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.
With the trial underway, another police shooting took place in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just miles away from Minneapolis.
Officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force, shot and killed Daunte Wright. She was heard on video surveillance screaming “taser” but discharged her firearm instead.
Wright, 20 years old, was pulled over for expired tags. During the stop, officers discovered Wright had an outstanding warrant. As he attempted to return to his vehicle, Potter discharged her weapon.
On the east coast, the Windsor, Virginia, police department released video footage this week of an incident involving two of its officers and U.S. Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario.
Officers pulled over Nazario, who was wearing his Army fatigues, for allegedly not having a properly tagged vehicle. In video footage, Nazario’s temporary tag for the newly purchased vehicle is visible through his rear window.
After driving a mile to a secure and lighted location, Windsor officers drew their guns on Nazario, even pepper spraying him for allegedly not following orders.
With his hands out the window as requested, he calmly asked officers multiple times to explain why they had drawn their weapons on him.
“What’s going on is you’re fixin’ to ride the lightning, son,” one officer can be heard yelling (a direct reference to the electric chair).
After telling the officers he was afraid to get out of the car (his hands remained raised the entire time), officer Joe Gutierrez responds, “You should be.”
America, what’s going on?
Just when we think we are taking positive steps forward to address racism and enact policing reform, news breaks of another police-involved shooting and of unjustified actions by police towards a person of color.
Last summer, millions of people marched across the country calling for justice and police reform.
Even though the former president used those marches and calls to further divide the country, many understood the frustration coming from communities of color and pledged to do better.
However, it seems like those promises of solidarity and pledges of reform rang hollow with the evidence before us.
We have to do better! We have to find another way!
In verse two of “What’s Going On,” Gaye reminds us that war and hate are not the answer. He concludes, “You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some loving here today.”
Jesus said it another way: “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
If any significant progress is ever to be made, we must begin from the point of love to move forward.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote can never be overstated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Fellow Baptist and social activist Cornel West once offered a similar assessment, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
The prophet Hosea reminds readers to “hold fast to love and justice” (12:6), underscoring the combined nature of the two.
If society is ever to make progress against systemic racism in this country, then we must declare, with both words and actions, our love for one another.
It is only by love that we will be saved. Only love producing justice for all of God’s children will ever transform our culture to become like God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
What’s going on, America?
It’s time to bring some love and justice here today.
CEO of Good Faith Media.