A Radical Stance

The skate park memorial for Carson

Recently, a young man passed away in North Langley. He was 14 years old and he died of a drug overdose brought on by peer pressure. If you’re reading this around Metro Vancouver, it is likely you may have come across this news story as a lot of people were talking about it. The last time I saw him was this past July walking down 88th, as he was prone to do in the area. I was with our Gator Shades students getting a snack on the last day of the program and it got me thinking about him and actually reminded me of how excited I was to connect with him again in September.

When I first met him I told him that I would never forget his name because he shared my father’s name. The school had connected me with him in hopes that we could build relationship and I could become a trusted person for him. From then on I would regularly see him, say hi, walk with him in circles around the hallways (he tended to do that during most class times), or sit and chat with him while he was in detention or waiting to talk to a principal. He was someone I tried hard with over and over again, but he always seemed to keep me at arm’s length and never let me fully in to those nitty gritty places we all seem to have. And honestly, this definitely wasn’t the first time. This can be pretty normal for me, especially at his age, and that’s where the comfort comes in knowing that there are still years of investment ahead.

In a moment of frustration of “not getting through” near the end of the school year, I had actually said that to myself about Carson; “It’s okay, you still have 4 more years”. That’s where this tragedy hits me. Now I seek comfort in having to know and trust that God had me next to Carson, in all of our small interactions and detention conversations, for His reasons and purpose. Which, maybe, Lord willing, I will be able to see and understand one day.

The community up in North Langley is still shocked and people are desperate to hear an official report, get some closure, and most are wanting to know where to shift blame. Fingers are getting pointed in a lot of directions - the high school, the police, or the older boys involved. Everyone is demanding justice of some kind, which, for some reason, has not sat well with me. I came to realize that it was because of the accusations that were being slung everywhere, almost like it was a witch hunt looking for one soul reason to place all the blame for Carson’s death - when it’s really not that simple. Parents up in a roar, because there’s not enough bullying awareness (there is), police moving too slow (they weren’t), or young men trying to harm (they’re boys who are, themselves, hurting).

The Hebrew term to accuse (or accuser) is ‘satan’. So what if underneath all these fingers being pointed we were to, instead, take the stance of forgiveness, of grace, and of mercy. It seems to be the type of radical stance that Jesus would’ve taken in a situation of injustice like this - delivering mercy where none was expected. Reminds me of a crowd shouting for the freedom of Barabbas in order to put their anger onto the man standing next to him. It’s a challenging thought and the gravity sits heavier over time when I weigh my own feelings and thoughts versus what I read of the man I aspire to be like does. So not just in this instance, but the next time you face a situation that boils your blood - what does it look like to take the stance opposite of the accuser?

Thanks for journeying with me,

Jon Pue

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