When we are young, we experience certain moments pre-linguistically, which is to say words do not entirely shape our world. There are certain gut reactions we have which are leftovers from our pre-linguistic days. These gut reactions or intuitions shape our early perceptual framework. It is doubtful that certain of our present understandings could be explained otherwise. Even an analysis given totally to Wittgenstein’s framework would have to agree with this understanding, but would probably place this type of thinking within the realm of mysticism. Spinoza places this type of knowledge in his third category called intuition.
Once we learn language, the perceptual framework, which was formed pre-linguistically begins to fade, but we continue, in some ways to be given to gut reactions or intuition. For example, there are certain fears we have developed, for which we cannot explain. Also, because we are, as Chomsky puts it, prone to language, we make meaningless attempts to provide nomenclature for our fears such as the saying, “the boogey man will get you.” The fear may be warranted but the language used to describe the fear may add more to confusion than to the assuaging of the situation.
This also happens in religion. There is a certain guilt that must be accepted for the addressing of certain events, which were probably first experienced pre-linguistically, but are now described by terms or phrases which may be inadequate. To this point, I have been watching many stories, video, and photos from the activity in Ferguson. One picture, in particular, has really disturbed me. There was a young lady on her knees on the ground where Michael Brown was shot praying in front of a sign, which read, “Rest in Peace Michael.” Maybe, it is just me, and I stipulate this possibility first, but this phrase just seems inadequate when compared to the way in which he died. I know some will quote I Corinthians 15:58, but is it possible that this phrase is not appropriate in all situations and is a leftover from a perceptual framework which no longer works.
Since our words and phrases create worlds of understanding and color how we see in general and specifically, I would like to suggest that there are other phrases, which may be just as biblical but may also have a better application in certain situations such as Ferguson. How about, “Was my death in vain,” or “There is a time for everything, what time is it now,” and if that is too long then try “Why was I forsaken.” These are just a few of the new, more adequate phrases I would like to suggest for all senseless murders. We have typically tried to use a phrase, which is more adequate for a description of the person in the moment. However, if it is at all possible to change our perceptual frameworks in an instant with one phrase, or to at least move in that direction, then I suggest that the phrases I have put forth go a long way in serving this purpose.