These past couple of weeks have been hard. They have been hard first and foremost because several people lost their lives. Families will now be without dads and brothers. Friends will live with a hole in their community. It is tragic that Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and 5 Dallas Police Officers lost their lives (listed in chronological order).
What is also hard is realizing that I have been lulled to sleep. Many of us have. If you compare news casts of today with those of the 50’s and 60’s you could come to a discouraging conclusion: we are repeating history. Racism still exists, even if it exists under the surface. In addition to this, many of us, no matter your race, have been raised in a culture of fear, anger, and violence. And for all of technology’s benefits, it has provided a loud speaker to fuel the fear and anger.
After the Dallas shooting, I had a vision – a vision of Sterling and Castile hugging the officers in heaven after they entered. I had a vision of them clasping their hands together and singing praise to God. I had a vision of them praying for us. I prayed and hoped that we would become as united under one purpose as that. I hoped that light could come from the dark tragedies.
Then, I watched social media and my heart broke. Many of us are in denial, and if we deny our issues than we are doomed to get stuck and repeat history over and over again. If we deny problems exist, then there is no progress. Even if we don’t really know the root of the problem, we can admit that there is one.
The problem isn’t just the underlying racism and prejudices. It’s also an absence of tenderness, kindness, and hope. If I follow Jesus, my words should be life giving, light bringing, and hope inspiring. My words should never be meant to tear anyone down. I’ve been so guilty of this at times that it is embarrassing. I’ve wanted to win the argument too many times, and I’m tired of the relational wreckage it leaves behind.
So what can we do? Listen to one another. Pray for one another. We need to also look to Jesus in the Gospels and read the letters to the early church. Paul wrote to the church of Corinth and Galtia that we should be building one another up in Christ. I want to ask one question before I speak or hit the submit button – do these words build up or destroy?