Yesterday I found myself involved in a drug related altercation between one man and a group of three men and a woman. By involved I mean I had hands on the single man and the leader of the group of four keeping them apart while fists were cocked, expletives were flying and demands for money were savagely made.
I was visiting a friend who lives in one of the public housing towers in Richmond and had just been buzzed in and starting signing in at the reception/guardhouse when a man came running in with another man in quick pursuit. The pursuer caught his prey and immediately demanded money with his fist ready to throw a punch.
I didn’t think about it. Maybe I should have. But I got inbetween the two and started trying to calm the situation down. I wasn’t very successful. Soon I was surrounded by 3 others who were with the pursuer. Through all the yelling and confusion it seemed like I had got involved in a drug deal gone bad. The group chasing the man said he had stolen a sum of money which I urged him to give back. He in turn wanted to know where the ‘gear’ was.
The man threatening violence raised his fist again and I implored him ‘Don’t hit him bro, it’ll just make things worse, you don’t want to go to jail for assault’. So there I was. Stuck between a dealer and a junkie trying to keep the peace. Except in that moment they weren’t just a dealer and a junkie. They were humans.
I wanted one person to not get their head kicked in and I wanted the other to not be facing criminal charges. I don’t know who ripped off who. I don’t know the justice of the situation. But I do know the humanity of it. I was connected to them both, literally. It was only later I thought about the potential danger to myself.
Others were in the foyer and left. The guard was behind a secure enclosure on the phone. The police came and I gave a statement. But I think I always want to be in between. I want to interpose myself to stop people being hurt and to talk people out of making stupid choices.
There’s lots of brokenness in the world today. This often presents as violence. But far more often it presents as apathy. Or judgement. I never want to not care, being content to sit on the sidelines or behind a secure enclosure (in a metaphorical sense – I’m not having a go at the guard who was just doing his job). Even more so, I never want to look at a situation and say, ‘He’s a dealer, he deserves it. He’s a user, he deserves it’.
Who am I to judge? Noone. I want to serve instead. And so I’ll look to bring mercy and to place myself between. Just like Jesus did for me. Just like Jesus served me.