Last week about 30 minutes before the verdict was announced in the trial of Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis police officer, who was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, another tragic event occurred in Columbus, Ohio.
Police responded to a frantic 911 call that a female was trying to stab them. When officer Nicholas Reardon arrived he found a 16-year old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, wielding a knife, missing at an attempt to stab one girl, then turning to stab another girl pinned against a car.
“Get down,” the Officer can be heard saying on the video multiple times before Reardon makes the split-second decision to shoot Bryant before she lands the knife into the upper torso of her intended victim. Sadly, she later died at the hospital.
Following this NBA star LeBron James posted a polarizing tweet with a picture of officer Reardon that read, “YOU’RE NEXT. #ACCOUNTABILITY” along with hourglass emoji.
After a firestorm of criticism, James deleted his tweet the next day, but offered his justification with another tweet.
National Fraternal Order of Police responded calling LeBron’s tweet “disgraceful & extremely reckless.”
This post is not about judging whether Reardon responded properly to shooting Ma’Khia Bryant. It’s about LeBron’s word “accountability.”
To be held accountable is to be answerable and responsible for one’s actions, attitudes, and words. It means to explain, or to be liable.
Think about those involved in this incident. Each bears personal responsibility and accountability.
Ma’Khia Bryant, who was in foster care, was responsible for her actions.
Was this fight incited by others? If so, they assume some responsibility.
The foster parents charged with her care and safety were responsible to the Ma’Khia and accountable to the state of Ohio.
Long before this happened Ma’Khia’s birth parents made decisions that put her in foster care.
Officer Reardon is responsible for his actions and accountable for his response to this tragic situation,.
LaBron James is also accountable. In his daily sports podcast, “Nothing Personal” David Samson said, “With his fame and fortune has to come a level of accountability that he wants to impose on others, that must be imposed on him too.”
Bloggers, like myself, must also be careful not to publish ill-informed and incendiary posts that create more heat instead of shedding light. The same goes for facebook, twitter and all social media posts.
In a post by Ryan Denison, in the Denison Forum, he warned Christians not to fall into a trap of speaking, tweeting or posting something offensive or foolish and thus tarnishing our Christian influence. We don’t have to weigh in on every single social, political or newsworthy issue.
From Genesis to Revelation, it’s clear that God holds each person accountable for their decisions and behavior. Beginning with Eve who ate the forbidden fruit, her husband Adam, who also sinned, to the serpent who beguiled them.
Even those identified as spiritual heroes in the Bible were accountable for their missteps and mistakes. Abraham. Jacob. Moses. Joshua. David. Solomon. As well as Jesus’ own apostles like Peter, James and John.
The Bible says, “each will give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). In that regard, the apostle Paul reminds us that we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-9). Jesus’ parable of the talents also speaks to individual accountability and responsibility.
In a 1953 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr delivered a sermon entitled, “Accepting Responsibility for Your Actions.” In it he talks about how the word “sin” is being eliminated from our vocabulary. And the tendency for us to look for a “scapegoat,” blaming others for our actions.
In closing the sermon, King correctly said, “Not environment; not heredity; but personal response is the final determining factor in our lives. And herein lies our area of responsibility.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman