Understanding is not Condoning

praytogetherRight now, there is a vein of pain in the United States.  Yes, the media (including social media) are quick to paint pictures without all of the facts.  Yes, there are some responses to what is happening in our country that are not RIGHT.   Yes, there are good cops out there who love and are committed to their communities.  Yes, there are people out there under the guise of “protestors” that are just trouble makers.  A predominant question I am seeing a lot of lately is about the protests that have become riots, coupled with looting.  It is a question of not understanding WHY communities are responding in such a radical… and violent way.  

Understanding what brings a group of people to this place is NOT condoning.  Understanding however does bring clarity, sympathy, and empathy.  Understanding can be the catalyst for change as more eyes open to what is happening around us.

I penned this on my Facebook page today:

If you have ever been so mad about something that you slammed a door & a picture fell off the wall and shattered…

If you have ever been so frustrated that you threw whatever was in your hand down hard on the table and it snapped in half…

If you have ever snapped back at a family member or raised your voice before you gave them a chance to speak…

If you have ever punished your child based on the evidence before you without giving them a chance to explain…

You have a FRACTION of the understanding needed to wrap your head around what is happening in Charlotte.

Sometimes it hurts… it hurts deep. It is raw and you just can’t control your actions. Right? No. Real? Yes. There are real people who are hurting right now, and it’s not because of one incident but the culmination of incidents. A boiling point.

Will there be opportunists who take advantage of this situation for their own gain? Who are not truly protesting or broken, but happy to take advantage of an opportunity to create mayhem … knowing with the # of people protesting they most likely won’t get caught? Of course.

We have a media who is happy to tell us about the long wrap sheets of these people who have been killed. Yet celebrates the accomplishments of guilty men who are let off with minimal to no consequence.

But you do have to scratch your head and wonder how in the world NY police took down the bombing suspect during a gun fight with a shot to the leg… and yet an unarmed man, walking away from the officers was such a threat that lethal force was required.

Just as much as scratching my head and wondering why a routine traffic stop has to take the life of one of our officers. Or, how the calculated attack on the Dallas officers occurred.

What this tells us is that there is still work to do. There are still strides to take forward. There is still hurt, pain, and marginalization. Just because we don’t see it here in our own lives or cities doesn’t mean it isn’t existing elsewhere.

As I have been listening to my fellow human beings talk about their experiences with racism… whether they are my grandmother’s generation or young kids… we can’t put our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. We can’t ignore it. Because, when we try to pretend or ignore… it impedes our ability to be honest and take the necessary steps to move forward.

We need to be the change.

 

Perhaps in God’s providence he is bringing forth an injustice to people whom he loves greatly that are being mistreated? He is exposing a bitter root that has gone deep and been ignored. Perhaps God is saying to his people STOP … LISTEN… and be my hands and feet. Stand up to injustice of all types. Maybe we are not in chaos and confusion, but instead the Lord is dropping the scales and opening our eyes to hurt, pain, and suffering of a group of people who are created in His image. Perhaps the Lord is calling us to STAND up for what is right, honorable, noble, and good. And in our stubbornness to see the sin before our eyes… we had to be shaken from our stupor.

Lord, I pray for our communities… the people who live in them and those who serve to protect them.  Let there peace and calm that comes, let real conversations happen that lead to healing and growth.  Let us more forward and not backward. Protect us from those who mean us harm.  Open our eyes to injustice.  Let us stand united, every color… civilians and officers… for good.  Amen.

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Equal in His Sight

rain

The world is aching right now.  Pain throbbing deep beneath the surface.  In some places everything looks ok, but small cracks are starting to appear.  In other areas the existing cracks are becoming deep caverns.  Pain that runs deep is seldom able to be healed with platitudes and promises.  And, much like the tremors near a volcano … it is a signal of an eruption.

When a volcano erupts, great amount of pressure that had been contained finally breaks through the surface.  It shows no regard for it’s surroundings, the animals and people who call the area home.  It shows no discrimination but destroys with complete abandon.

Humanity is like the volcano, as it builds up pressure of pain… hurt… oppression… discrimination… hatred…  it is bound to erupt.

When watching the news lately, one can’t help but think that the world is erupting.  It can’t take much more.  Whether we are watching the fallout of terrorism on distant shores or watching a nation tearing itself apart on our doorsteps… there is friction.

Reflecting on our recent news, and the contents of my Facebook news feed, I see the friction.  I also know that an object or a person can only take so much pressure… so much friction… before they break, before they erupt.

I see the hurt and pain of a marginalized people who have faced oppression and unfair treatment for far too long buckling under that pain.  Who do not want the whole to be profiled based on the actions of the few.

I see the hurt and pain as our men and women who serve on our police force are burying their own, too.  I hear their cries that this is not an answer… and they too do not want the many to be penalized by a broken society based on the actions of a few.

I’m watching on Facebook as people are being forced to take sides and God help you if you don’t pick the right one.  I am watching friends divide.  I watch wives in fear as their husbands leave to work another patrol.  I witness mothers of brown little boys and girls try to get the world to acknowledge their greatest fears every time their children walk out of their site.  I see communities who are saying ENOUGH and men/women in blue who are shouting THAT IS NOT ME.  I see the prayers and pleas from both sides who simply want their loved ones to come home tonight.

We were all created equal in His site.  Image bearers who are less than perfect.  All of us have past decisions that are less than stellar… for some even illegal.  Lord let me not judge the worthiness of a life TODAY based on a mistake made YESTERDAY.  Let me not judge the worthiness of a life TODAY based on how different a person looks or acts from me.  Let me stand in the way in injustice, be a voice for the voiceless, a shoulder to lean on.  Let me be ears capable of hearing, arms capable of lifting, and feet willing to walk beside.  Let me see the value you have given your creation, where you know the number of hairs on their heads…. you call them by name… those who are worth far more than rubies and pearls… more valuable than the sparrows to the God who loves them.

Forgive me for the times I failed to see… the times I didn’t want to hear… the disbelief that such pain was a deep and warranted.  Forgive me for the times I stayed silent when I should have spoken up.  Forgive me.  Give me your eyes for the hurting, broken in spirit, broken in body, broken in trust, broken in anguish, broken in anger.  Give me your heart, and break it for what breaks yours.

#BeTheChange for me starts with a prayer of forgiveness… that results in a softening of my heart and opens my eyes to see in a new way.

YOU are seen.

YOU are valuable.

YOU are loved.

Your life matters, greatly.