I’ve been going back and forth this week between this post, and a lighter, more fun one.
Goodness knows we need more light right now!
But it’s been a bad couple weeks in my country, and it’s a struggle acknowledging that without being depressing!
I decided the only honest response was to not divide them up, but to deal with the pain, and the good, together. Kinda like life.
So … I get it that the anger, the violence, come because we are threatened by those we don’t agree with. But…
WHY IS THAT?
Why are we so threatened by people who don’t agree with our beliefs or are not like us? (The ones not trying to kill us, I mean.)
Why do we have to fight them, and make efforts to undermine them?
Now, I’m not talking about sharing our thoughts, or teaching our kids, or even debating issues. I’m talking about condemning, hating, even sabotaging other’s efforts, because they differ from us.
Why does it matter so much to us?
Because, really, if I know I’m right, then my most logical ‘action’ is to wait for them to learn for themselves that their method or practice or belief doesn’t work, you know? Why can’t we simply speak our piece and let it be?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I realise that a lot of people simply use racism, religion, political views, or whatever, as a cover for their own wickedness.
I do not believe that every ‘pro-life’ American believes it’s okay for them to kill doctors who work at abortion clinics, or to terrorise desperate women. I don’t think every white supremacist marching in Charlottesville this past week would have been willing to drive a car into a crowd of living, breathing, human beings.
But we almost all become entrenched in pushing our own views sometimes.
And I’d say most of us, at one point or another, value defending our belief more than we value the person we disagree with. (Or, for Christians – more than we love the image bearer of Christ who stands before us.)
I’m not sure why.
Do we fear that they don’t love or respect us?
Are our own beliefs too fragile?
Are we hurt, or frightened, by the thought that not everyone thinks we are right?
Do we fear they are right?
Is it just the fear of not having control?
Since we sometimes violate our own beliefs in trying to defend them, this can’t be just a simple matter of disagreeing!
Hating, judging, perhaps even killing others because they don’t measure up to our Christian beliefs is a darn good example, if we define ‘Christian’ as a disciple of the same Christ who said
Don’t condemn other people, that’s not your job.
Love your enemies, ask God to bless them.
The most despicable person you can think of is who I meant when I said ‘Neighbour’.
Whose word says the world will respect you when you live peacefully and quietly, tending to your own business.
I imagine it’s more than one reason. I imagine I’ll never understand it completely. Maybe not even in myself, let alone in all of us.
So then, how do we change?
How do we become more than we are right now?
How do we avoid having to return to this place in history again and again?
One way, alas, is by thinking through these difficult, depressing things. And one way is by understanding history, AND paying close attention to the world today.
Another way, I realised, is to follow the advice of my main man Fred Rogers. Well, the advice of his mother actually,
So I did.
And there were helpers – both real, live people, and also spots of hope and encouragement.
I was shocked, but deeply impressed, by this PSA that my own government created a generation ago.
I read an article about a black man, Daryl Davis, who spends his free time befriending white supremacists. Not protesting against them. Not threatening them. Not beating them up or running them out of town.
Not even legislating against them!
He befriends them.
Talks with them over dinner.
Shares his thoughts and listens with concern to their thoughts.
Mr. Davis is making a difference.
And that, too, reminded me that hope is stronger than darkness, that despair isn’t the right response – ever.
I read another article about a group of folks who have set up a resource to take the pressure of explaining why racism is a problem OFF of people who are feeling overwhelmed by that pressure.
Such a simple, powerful service, but I never thought of it!
Again with the hope! Maybe my species is redeemable after all?
I saw this quote in a document I was reading for work, completely unrelated to current crises, and it made me smile (that alone was a major feat last week!):
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”¹
CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT!
Any time I’ve been in bed with a mosquito – even when I’ve had a fully functional bed net – there is no doubt that all 1000th of an ounce or whatever it is of her made a HUGE difference in my entire night’s rest!
So, it gave me another shot of hope, and reminded me that it’s not all darkness out there, and we can rebuild from here. (Definitely the most I’ve ever gotten out of any reference to mosquitos.)
All of this, plus a good deal of prayer, managed to bring me out of the doldrums at least! I hope it’s encouraging for someone else as well.
I pray that the coming week will be better than these last few … for all of us.
Let’s all stick together out there.
¹ Attributed to Anita Roddick; haven’t checked it myself, but I could certainly believe it. God rest her soul.