Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter*.

What matters?

I’ve spent some time reading articles, news stories, blog posts, facebook posts, memes, etc. over the past several days. I see the above hashtags/statements and I’ve been thinking this morning/afternoon…what really matters? What is going on in our world that is causing this to happen?

I’m no expert on gun control or race relations, and to be clear – I am a privileged white person who could choose to not say anything, turn the TV and facebook off – and for the most part could enjoy the rest of my day distracting myself with other things.

I often wonder, who am I to say or do anything about any of this?

Then the Bishop’s words ring in my ears: “take thou authority as a deacon to proclaim the Word of God and to lead God’s people to serve in the world.”

So here I am, struggling with how to respond to such atrocities.

The posts that I find most helpful so far say these things:

Those police officers in Dallas didn’t deserve to be killed. Alton Sterling didn’t deserve to be killed. Philando Castile didn’t deserve to be killed. Each person shot and killed this year, whose names don’t get hashtags and broadcast time didn’t deserve to be killed. The violence has to end.

Violence doesn’t end violence. It extends it.

Let us pray fervently for the families of the police officers senselessly killed in Dallas, the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile senselessly killed, the families affected every weekend in Chicago by senseless gun violence and for each other who are feeling numb and powerless by it all!

It’s possible to be ‘pro-cop and pro-black.’

Yes, it’s possible – you can be just as outraged over the murder of black people by cops as you are over the murder of cops. Life is life.

The world has been too much for me to handle and process today. I have no words. But this amazing youth does. “This world needs some love right now. And man, that starts with you.”

What I see on social media and in what I’ve read/observed is that people are trying to make sense of all of this. Looking for someone to blame. Wanting to DO something, respond in some way.

Some are responding by simply reading and listening to others. Some are quick to write, to speak, to blame, to judge, to condemn. Still, some say, let us just sit with our grief and struggle through this before needing to act.

Feel the hurt, acknowledge our pain.

Brené Brown posted: “Rather than acknowledging our pain, we inflict it on others. Neither hate nor blame will lead to the justice and peace that we all want – it will only move us further apart.”

Further apart.

We all feel that. Any time something like this happens, we feel the brokenness. We feel pain, disappointment, deep sadness, loss.

Paralyzed and hopeless, powerless.

But the thing is, none of this will change if we sit for too long in the dark corners of the basement. We must respond. We must stop this cycle of violence and hatred.

One of the responses I came across is a United Methodist Bishop’s e-pistle encouraging people to be peace-makers.  “We must not be apathetic. We must not get used to all of this violence.”

He says, “Parents and grandparents [and teachers and pastors] need to teach the children that violence is not the answer – even when confronted with unjust actions by others, reacting with violence only perpetuates and increases the problem.”

I would add:

  • we need to teach non-violent ways of resolving conflicts (including, but not limited to: communication skills and the fruits of the spirit)
  • we need to embody non-violent ways of responding out of our frustration and anger (including our verbal responses and the way we talk to one another)
  • we need to teach and practice respect and curiosity for those who are different than us (and who hold different opinions than us) rather than fear/judgement
    • Rethinking Schools has some fabulous resources for teaching children about diversity in fun, creative ways: Celebrating Skin Tone is one of their articles which highlights some wonderful children’s books to use.
    • Understanding Prejudice has a comprehensive list of books covering a wide range of topics and is color coded by ages to help you choose what’s right for you/your child(ren). Good for parents and educators.
  • we need to cultivate a sense of love for one another – to value each person as a beloved child of God – and to work towards being in tune with that image of God that is inside each of us.
    • loving our neighbors isn’t always easy. it takes practice and intentionality. kind of like working out. So go, strengthen your love muscles; practice.
    • there are usually things going on within ourselves that cause us to respond negatively to others – what’s that all about? sit with that, work it out. attend to your soul, mind, and strength so that your own issues don’t manifest as violence towards others.

There are so many things we can do to change this culture of hatred and violence, at the very least – the world around us that we face each day.

As I said to my youth after the Pulse shooting – events like this should make us stop in our tracks. They should cause us to forego our plans for the day to stop and think about how we might do better at loving our neighbor, how we might work in our communities so that things like this won’t happen.

We are each uniquely gifted to respond. So stop. Pray. Grieve. Consider what gifts and abilities you have, and do something. Because what matters is that we not add to the division, fear, and hatred that pervades our culture, and that we do our part to ensure each beloved child of God is cared for and loved.

 

*follow the link to a Relevant Magazine article highlighting the problem with this statement as a response to Black Lives Matter.

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