I’m very aware of my privilege this morning. I’m sitting in the comfort of my own home with a kitty crashed on my lap while the other kitty is fast asleep on top of the couch. Yet, five or so hours away, I am hearing and listening to the stories of friends who were followed home by white supremacist groups and friends who were peacefully protesting when the semi drove into the crowd which they were a part of at the time. They literally had to jump a fence to get to safety.
My heart is breaking as I hear their stories. I am renouncing my own sin and complacency in standing up for my BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) friends and colleagues. I’m not a violent person, but I can understand the holy righteous anger and rage coming from my BIPOC friends and colleagues. I pray continually for the safety of all who are involved including the police. (One of my dearest friends is married to a police officer). But I also know that our systems need to change.
And while army tanks stood at attention, while owners tried to protect their businesses, and while churches gathered to be the kingdom here on Earth in Minneapolis, our President saw an opportunity for a photo op in Washington DC and ran with it.
The President could have easily spoke about loving our neighbors. He could have spoke up for the injustices and unnecessary deaths of our BIPOC siblings. Instead he chased away peaceful protestors who were hit with rubber bullets, flash grenades and were tear gassed so he could stand in front of St Peters Episcopal church holding the Bible. He didn’t even have the decency to give them a warning so they could clear out and move their medical supplies. Just thirty minutes before, there were medics on the porch of that same church caring for injuries.
Our President has never stepped foot in that church. He wasn’t even gracious enough to let the Bishop of the Episcopal church know he was coming. It was not a sign of peace and hope. He knew what he was doing…in fact every move was calculated. For many, he invoked fear rather than hope and peace.
As Christians, our call is to love our neighbors especially those who don’t look like us. In the words of Micah 6:8, we are to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.” Our call is to let those voices who need to be heard to be heard and not silenced. It is our call to follow Jesus example and search out the one. The ninety nine are important, but it’s even more important to look for the one who is lost/missing.
I’m going to search for the one, friends. I will not be distracted by those who simply like hearing the sound of their own voice. I will not be distracted by those who pull my attention away from fighting for justice for unnecessary deaths. I will not be distracted by my own tears and broken heart, but instead I’ll strive to listen and pay attention to the BIPOC voices in our world who are tired and weary from fighting for just for their BIPOC siblings.
Do you hear them? Do you understand where their holy rage is coming from? Do you see and say the too many names that have died unjustly? Can you open your ears, eyes and hearts to try and understand? Can you join me in praying for our broken fractured world with the widest chasm that needs to be healed, but but not at the cost of another life?
MLK Jr., often is remembered as a peaceful man yet he wasn’t always met with kindness. In fact, if you remember your history, you know he was actually murdered for his actions.
I want to leave you with two quotes for you to reflect on. They embody the reality of how long systematic racism has been going on in our country. (And it was going on long before him)
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (MLK Jr)
“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention”
He predicted that these riots would continue until our BIPOC siblings would finally be heard. How long, oh Lord? How long, will the bad cops not pay for their unjust actions? How long, oh Lord, will lives be taken before we finally hear the cries of our BIPOC siblings: the cries of grief and injustice for those they love? How long, how long will their cries fall on deaf ears (ears that simply choose not to hear)?
Let those with white ears, hear and listen….