Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How long, O Lord, how long?

How long will we keep killing each other? Abusing each other? Robbing each other?
Breaking each other's bones? Shooting each other? Beating each other with impunity?
How long will we keep responding to injustice with more injustice?
How long will we allow for such inequality in our schools, in unemployment rates, in pay scales, in imprisonment rates, and in sentences for crimes?
How long will we disregard human dignity because a person looks a certain way, has a certain level of income or education or sexual orientation or religion or way of dress?
How long will we try to explain it all away so that we don't have to work to make it stop?
How long will we wait until we work to change, truly change our violent, angry, retaliatory ways?

How long will we make excuses for the people who are most like us and condemn the people who are least like us?
How long will we maintain these boxes,  the ones that divide "us" from "those people"? Who are "those people" anyway? Are they not mother and fathers, daughters and sons of somebody? Are we not all somebody's baby? Who are they if they are not us?
How long will we justify our fearful acts?
How long will we excuse our hateful acts?
How long will we dismiss our ignorant acts?

How long will we have to wait until good news is broadcast as readily as bad news? Good news about those who are protecting the vulnerable and not taking advantage of them? Those who are providing safe places and nutritious food for the disenfranchised? Those who are working to end homelessness and joblessness and hopelessness so that crime becomes less of an attractive option? Those who are working for freedom, justice, and peace?

How long will we ridicule those who still, after all this, maintain the audacity of hope? Hope that the violence can cease? Hope that executions will cease? Hope that peace will prevail? Hope for change, heart change, soul change, life change?

How many more videos do we need to see?
How many more stories do we need to hear?
How many more sons and daughters need to die?
How many more parents and spouses and children need to grieve?
How many more cities need to burn?
How long, O Lord, how long?

Dear Prince of Peace,
Our world, our nations, our cities, our homes, our very hearts
are being torn apart by fear, by greed, by anger, by sorrow, by poverty.
Our young men and women are being abused, beaten, kidnapped, trafficked, killed.
Cities are burning. People are rioting and looting and weeping and pleading for justice.
The earth is shaking under the feet of our brothers and sisters in Nepal and Oklahoma.
The things that some of us used to take for granted,
our wealth, our homes, our health, our families,
our skin color, our gender, our religious affiliation -
those things have proven altogether insufficient to protect us from much.
Please forgive us for our callousness, our selfishness, our fear.
Please forgive us for thinking we can ignore the needs around us and within us.
Please forgive us for trying to diminish the suffering of the vast majority of people in the world.
Please forgive us for trying to take advantage of their suffering.
Please, Lord, please have mercy on us and forgive us. Forgive me.
Please strengthen us to be people of peace, people of grace,
people of courage, people of forgiveness, people of joy,
people of hope, people of love.
Please give us eyes to see the things we have tried so desperately to not see.
Please give us ears to listen to the stories of those we know and those we don't yet know.
Please give us compassion to work on behalf of others and not only ourselves.
Please give us the will and the wherewithal to have mercy on each other
and forgive one other all the grievances we have against one another.
Clearly, we cannot do all of this on our own.
Clearly, we cannot fix this mess we've made on our own.
We need your tenderness. We need your love.
We need you, God. We desperately need you.
Draw us to our knees. Draw us to your table.
Draw us toward each other. Draw us toward you.
For the sake of your great name, for the sake of our wounded souls,
For the sake and salvation of all people everywhere,
please, Lord, have mercy on us.

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