Can I start out with an apology... as lame as that may be?
Here's the thing - I am sorry. I am sorry about a lot of things and what I absolutely do not want to be doing right now is jumping on any sort of bandwagon or trend.
I mean, honestly... for the love.
That is not what this is.
How could I not know? But honestly, I didn't.
I had half-written posts on #GoingThere floating around in my head for weeks but really, what could I offer to the conversation? I've got nothing. Because... well, I didn't know. I told Alia the other day that 'Ignorance is Bliss only for the Ignorant' and that is when it started to dawn on me... that is how I started to realize that we are partly to blame.
We, the ignorant.
The ones who don't know.
I am a (lower-)middle class white woman, born and raised in a small agricultural Republican/conservative town. Sure, we have race issues. Mostly they are based around immigrant workers and illegal aliens and gangs. We have a lot of cultures in this area, but because of my experience, (Read: lack thereof) I really thought things had gotten better.
I think they have. I hope so anyway...
I pray that they have...
But then we see #Ferguson and we think, "How can this be happening?" and it seems like it is coming out of the blue, if not out of the 1950's and it doesn't feel like real life.
Not to us. The ignorant. The far removed.
But we can think that it doesn't look or feel like real life because we are ignorant and we don't know. We are segregated and we never even noticed. Did you see that I asked "How can this be happening?" when really the question is "How can this still be happening?" or "How can this be happening again?"
We just don't notice. I just hadn't. really. noticed.
I have never been pulled over due to the color of my skin.
I've never had anyone follow me around while shopping or cross the street, or lock their doors...
I've never had anyone be afraid of me.
I don't want to talk about it because I talk a lot around these parts about being vulnerable and real and authentic and who wants to just come right on out and say I don't know things. I am ignorant.
But that's the thing. That right there. I think that is how we begin to bridge the gap and stop the madness! We admit that we don't know... that we don't understand really... we are honest and say, "I thought it was so much better?" and we ask "How is this happening...still... again?"
I have this friend... she is super good at asking questions. Simple ones, that make you dig deep and really look for an answer. I think when we risk looking stupid, or ignorant, or sheltered... and we ask the questions that matter... the questions that make us dig down deep, then the bridge gets stronger; the divide maybe narrows just a bit.
In my half-written posts in my mind, I had entertained talking about the not-quite boyfriends who pursued me when I was a young teenager and how the fact that they were Black was more of an issue than that fact that they were already grown men... or maybe I would write about the family who moved in to our neighborhood when I was young and how they kept to themselves and the parents didn't or couldn't speak English and they were so different and this intrigued me but there was sort of an unspoken distrust that felt like it went both ways... and even though I didn't understand it or want it, it felt like in order for them to protect their culture they couldn't let ours in.
I was going to be witty and charming and admit that I am sheltered and live in a segregated world where I have felt the longing for culture and diversity but haven't been able to find it... inside or outside of the Church. Or maybe admit that I haven't looked hard enough.
But then Ferguson and Mike Brown and freaking riots in the streets and military police and tear gas and Dear God, what in the world is happening (again)?
I don't have answers. I wish I did. And as hard as it is to read through my newsfeed and hear firsthand accounts and read articles and posts written by people who are closer to the reality of this tragedy Every. Single. Day. ...as much as it is true that it is chaos right now and we can't know the facts or the truth, the choice to remain ignorant - or silent - is no longer an option!
As much as I want to know what happened and I want to help find answers and ways to prevent it from ever happening again, I also want to know - I want to remind people, this is real life.
These are real people and families and communities and I want to hear someone speak well of Mike Brown, yes - but also of some of those police officers too...
From deep within me, I feel the Holy Spirit groaning... and in my flesh, I fight back tears that stem from anger and injustice... then I slow... I pray... I ask God to break my heart... I feel a rising from my soul and a renewed call to, yes, Speak Life... to Be Love... to Shine On.
It seems that it has taken the foggy air of tear gas exploding to wake us up and help us to see clearly.
Yes. It's not pretty... and we don't have to like it, but sometimes, we are to blame.
I pray that we are Brave... that we - no matter our background, neighborhood, or skin color - will be willing to 'go there' and use our words to build a bridge. I pray that we will not plead ignorance or choose to look away but instead that we will look up and right into eyes that are scared and wounded and that we will not widen the divide, but that we will help bridge the gap.
I pray that whatever I can bring the the table to help you see from my perspective of this side of the bridge will be heard, valued, considered... and then I will get to hear your perspective from your side of the bridge and I will really hear, value, consider...
I pray that we can meet in the middle, link arms and hearts and voices... that we will be one, as He is One.
I pray one day we will need no Bridge.
I pray we will learn to walk on the water with Him.
Until then, I pray Ephesians 4 over us all...
"In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness."
What about you? How are you #GoingThere? We'd love for you to join us!