I have struggled to find the right words to say in support of all those who are hurting and grieving and angry. I keep coming back to a few things I’ve said before –
-People behave the way they feel
-Healing never happens in silence
-Voicing pain is never as bad as causing that pain
-Effect is at least as significant as intention
-Denying feelings harms people
-If I tell you “I’m not hurting you” and your response is “yes, you are,” only one of us is correct (and it’s not me)
To that list I’ll add:
If we don’t understand the source of all the hurt and anger that has sparked protests, rebellions, and demonstrations, we have to take the time to really listen before we judge the few who go too far. If we think violent force is the right or only way to put down this expression of pain and grief, we are failing to hear and escalating harm. If we think dominance is the answer to cries of pain, we are reinforcing dynamics of abuse. If we think it’s ok to rename pain as manipulation, grief as performance, or trauma as typical politics, then we will never find healing. If we expect a show of force to calm a nation’s anger over excessive force, we have completely lost our way.
As a Christian and pastor, I follow a God who would rather give up his own life than commit a single act of violence (Matthew 26:52); a God whose power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); a God whose greatest act was born in humility (Phil 2:8) and requires us to confront our deepest failures rather than pretend we have it right already (John 3:14). These are the themes and lenses that, above any other, inform my perception of how I am called to live, to lead, and to respond in moments such as this.
I mourn the death of George Floyd and the countless other black men and women who have been killed. I mourn the stark reminder of how far we have to go before we can even create the space for grief and empathy, much less heal the wounds and systems that have given birth to this moment.
I try to imagine what it would be like to tell my dad that I don’t think my life matters to him. What would it do to me if he responded by telling me to shut up, of course all lives matter? I try to imagine what it would do to my son if I said the same to him.
We have a long way to go to create a truly fair and just world. This is a moment when the very least we can do is clearly state without equivocation that the lives of our black brothers and sisters matter. There is so much more that can and ought to be said and done. But if we cannot start by uttering three simple words, everything else we say or do will be vanity, a chasing after the wind.
Black Lives Matter.