Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So much sorrow

He deserved it.
He acted in self-defense.
What about the dangerous kids?
What about the heavily armed officers?
Stop the looting.
Burn it all down.
Kill them all.
Why can't we all just get along?
By any means necessary.
At least it's not happening where I live.
I never thought it would happen where I live.
Seek peace and pursue it.
Even peaceful protesters get tear-gassed and arrested.
The looters would have looted no matter what the verdict was.
Who speaks for the ones without a voice?
Who decides whose voices are worth hearing?
Let's sit down and talk about this.
There is nothing left to say that hasn't already been said.
My pain is bigger than your pain.
Her pain is no worse than his pain.
I'm not a racist; I have black friends.
I'm not black, but I know what you're going through.
You're not like other black people.
You're black; tell me what to think and feel.
I know it's not politically correct to say this, but...
All the political correctness and unwillingness to speak the truth plainly is why we are in the position we're in.
I too have been a victim.
Black lives matter.
White lives matter.
All lives matter.
Nothing I do matters.
We need more guns in the hands of the good guys.
Everybody has the right to protect themselves.
I agree. 
I disagree.
You are wrong.
You are right.

A dear and wise friend reminded me of the need to have "the discussion" with my son again today - 
"Don't give cops any backtalk if they stop you. 
If they ask you for your license, tell them where it is before you reach for it.
Keep your hands always visible.
No sudden moves. No belligerent commentary.
There's no guarantee that this response will save your life, but at least you will have an idea and a plan about how to respond if you are stopped by the police." 
I turned away from that discussion with tears in my eyes and a prayer on my lips.

Another friend wrote on Facebook about looking at her two handsome black sons with extra love and grace and prayer today. 

I think about my three brothers, one in Brooklyn, NY, one in Texas and the other in Florida. I pray for their safety. I pray for them and the vulnerability they must feel when they are on their way to work or out to eat or back home. 

I pray for the many broken hearted, angry, unsurprised, head-shaking black people in this nation today. I pray for the mothers and fathers who will hug their children even harder when they get home tonight, grateful that they have arrived safe and sound. I pray for those whose children will not get home safe. I pray for the many who will gather with family and friends to comfort and challenge one another, to ask questions, to weep for the brokenness in our nation, to try to formulate responses.

Sweet Honey in the Rock has been singing this for years -
"We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes - 
until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons,
is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers' sons."

I pray for white people too, for the ones who feel confused and perplexed, the ones who feel persecuted and criticized, the ones who feel defensive and angry, and also the ones who are standing - and sitting around table - with their black and latino brothers and sisters in solidarity. I pray that they too will gather with family and friends to comfort one another and challenge one another, to ask questions, and to weep for the brokenness in our nation and in each of us, and also to formulate responses within their community.

We all need safe spaces to speak out, to be silent, to grieve, and to find new ways to live. The old ways haven't been working too well for us. Something has got to give. I think our pride, our fears, our wrong-headed attitudes, our unwillingness to admit that we each and all have participated in getting us to this place, and our pre-formulated responses are among the first things that have got to go.

I pray for all people everywhere because we are each and all affected by and infected with fear, prejudice, anger, doubt, questions, and we all also yearn for peace and justice. Most of us don't know where to begin. Some of us are so steeped in sorrow and sadness at the moment that we feel paralyzed. Some of us hope that with the passage of time the anger will settle down again and these tragic events will be forgotten yet again. Tragically, some of us will forget. Tragically, some of us will never forget. Because it keeps on happening. Our children are shot in the street. Our children are shot in school. Our children are beaten up and abused, raped, prostituted and drug-addled. It happens at home, in school, at church, and everywhere in between. Our nation, our states, our cities, our towns, our communities, and our homes are far too violent, too tolerant of violence, and too unwilling to speak out against violence and injustice. I include myself in that statement. 

This cycle of violence keeps on turning.
On both sides. On every side. 
Even on the inside. Especially on the inside. 
Cuz all the stuff happening on the outside began on the inside. 

Fear. Injustice. Racism. Violence. Anger. Tragedy. Sorrow. 
There is so much sorrow. So much pain. 

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