Sunday, March 8, 2020

2020.03.08 Being Born Again—And Again

You must be born again to enter the kingdom of God, the realm of heavenly things, Christians say.

How many times?

At first, Kaia Rolle, 6, appeared not to understand what the police officers were doing.

“What are those for?” she said, eyeing the zip ties the officers had brought to the school office in Orlando, Fla.

“It’s for you,” one officer responded.

As he tied them on, she started to sob: “No, don’t put handcuffs on. Help me!” (from an article in the New York Times of 2/27/20, “Body Camera Footage Shows Arrest by Orlando Police of 6-Year Old at School” by journalist, Mihir Zaveri, first published in The Orlando Sentinel.)

The child continued to sob and plead, begging for help, and wailing: “Please, please. No, please” as two officers arrested her, cuffed her, and placed her in the back of a police vehicle. Later she was charged with battery and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center—jail. Out of respect I will not include her mug shot taken after finger-printing. But don't tell me this is legal!

I first saw the live footage on the nightly MSNBC Greater Boston news program last week. It made my blood curdle, my innards recoil, and my eyes fill with tears. I had trouble getting the image out of my mind and still do.

From a spiritual perspective, I am sure that if you ever see such a horror you will know that you are being born again—awakened to the end of sweet heavenly visions of divine kingdoms in the sky. You will never be the same again. You will never be naive or judgmental about the true meaning of what Christians call being born again. Is there heaven in this hell?

The arrest of Kaia Rolle happened in September after she had an emotional tantrum at school in which she kicked a school staff member and may have hit out at another student. The arresting officer had arrested a six-year-old boy in a separate episode on the same day was terminated from his job.  The incident raised immediate political and legal alarm, and steps were taken that require a deputy chief’s approval before a child under twelve was arrested. Kaia’s grandmother offered explanations about the child’s sleep apnea and their efforts to treat it.

Emotional outbursts like Kaia’s happen all the time in classrooms. Teachers are trained to manage them as creatively and kindly as they can. But did you now that our states have laws that legalize arrests for children that young? They call it juvenile, as if that word could soften the impact of such cruelty. I tell you that the law sanctioning such child abuse is against the “law” of Christ and, as one attorney said, represents a broken system that needs fixing. 

What happened to Kaia is the definition of sin, systemic and individual. It’s the Cross of Christ. I saw this little girl break. I felt born again into the evil potential of this world.

I can only pray that my own emotional breakage will be used by God for good and beg, like Kaia, for help—again and again and again.