First, the country I grew up knowing is no longer what I see. Yes, I saw division. I saw hardships endured by many that weren't fair. Yes, I saw a community torn between races. No, I never really experienced the hurt that these items I saw created in friends, classmates and those I worked with. Yet what they went through is nothing that compares to what is happening today.
Yes, the unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are more than tragic. They are appalling. I can't find a means to even think there is justification for their murders. How could anyone actually find an excuse for the actions of police and former law workers? I have no answers for that question. Nor can I find an answer for why the justice system failed them in the immediate aftermath of their murders. I'm sick just thinking about this.
Sadly, the following words are where I know I'm going to lose many of you. Those I lose will probably even tell me that my whiteness proves I have no compassion for anyone and will never understand the purpose of a protest. I'll agree, you might be right. But again I ask you at least hear me out.
What could justify arson, theft and assault as a means to protest the inexcusable murders of black men? What is being accomplished to the betterment of race relations by burning down the minority owners business? Is stealing a new TV healing wounds or creating a greater chasm? Is this a protest or a chance to exercise complete anarchy? Are those rioting doing so in memory of these two men? Or have the rioters and looters moved past the point of honoring and seen a chance to commit crimes because the can? Again, there is no easy answer, if one at all. This too is making me sick.
Here is what is making more sick: news sources that are presumably reliable telling me that the riots are a normal response; a president that seems to be unable to stop himself from posting on Twitter; politicians blaming others for creating the race and financial divide; christians being arrogant enough to say that, "it wouldn't happen if we just trust Jesus more (or something to that line).
Do I believe that there are some hard working journalists that are trying to present facts? Yes, but not as many doing so as often as once was. Do I believe the president needs to be on Twitter so much? Nope, but I also believe he's doing so for more than just spewing whatever is on his mind. When politicians are continually blaming others for the ills of the laws this country has, do I think the finger pointing is a way to get me to support them? Nope, no and not at all. I believe that if they stopped pointing fingers and honestly made an effort that things might have an opportunity to change (more than just DC, but also right where you and I live). Do I believe that a faith in and a relationship with Christ is needed in my life? Considering my opening paragraph that is an easy answer. BUT!!! I do not believe that a simple cookie cutter statement will solve anything for those that believe differently that I do.
Tell me then, how do we heal the hurt this is going through? I will never understand the possibility of not being able to take a jog without getting shot, or having a grown mans full weight on my neck cutting off my source of air. I can empathize with those emotions. I can empathize with their families as they walk through the loss of their loved ones. If I can't relate, then tell me how I can help. Where can I make a difference?
Don't tell me that the riots, arson and thievery is similar to the Tea Party when those protesters didn't physically injure the law enforcement of the day. You won't convince me Dr. Martin Luther King would support these forms of protest when he preached against violence of any means while he too was violently murdered. Don't tell me a part of history means something in support of your argument/explanation when you conveniently ignore that part where Rosa Parks protested without violence. Don't tell me condemning the "protests" is demeaning the death of two black men especially when I told you earlier it is making me sick. Again I ask, what do we do to help change the current state of affairs?
Here's my suggestions. I'm a person, blood flowing through my body just as yours does. My pigment might be a little lighter than yours, but it's still a pigment; I can't change what you or I look like. Let's treat each other like people. Let's shake hands when we see each other. Let's have civil conversations about our differences to hopefully find some similarities. Let's not burn down others properties as a means of retribution - you're only hurting someone else while not getting what you seek in justice. Instead of blaming others for our actions, shouldn't we accept responsibility? I have a free will to decide how to respond as do you. The tragic deaths of two does not mean I have no other choice than destroy things. No!!! I actually have the choice to peacefully protest brutality and unnecessary force.
I know I'm missing solutions. I know that as one of the most vilified individuals in America right now my words will fall on deaf ears. I'll also be told how ignorant my privileged self is because I don't know how to walk in the minority persons shoes (again, see above). But I'd like to think that my desire to see healing is something we all should want. I'd be remiss to think the healing won't hurt no matter how desperate we need it. Most importantly, don't tell me how wrong I am in these words when you only want to tell me about my ignorance and wrongness instead of contributing a possible solution. You do that, and you only prove that you are a part of the problem.
Please, let's work together for change. Let's work together to use more than conversation as a means to vent. Please, see me as a person that passionately cares about you and your family as I will work to believe the same of you. We need to raise our expectations of ourselves to help heal as opposed to just accepting life as we see it. Are you up to the challenge of making yourself better? I'll work on myself and hope you'll work with me in improving each other.
For a little fun, give this classic from Billy Joel a listen. He might have been on to something when he wrote it. Pretty sure he could add a few more lines today.
Time to, "Stop The Insanity!"