I'm sitting here, basking in the aftermath of an eclipse, listening to the President address the nation. Listening to him speak and articulate a well written speech that seems to hold well to his role. This past week has been difficult, with the marches for statues with controversial pasts, to the looming threat of nuclear war from North Korea, to politicians on Capital Hill being accused of being racist, to the terrible act of terrorism that occurred in Spain; it's been one thing after the other. Yet, earlier today I saw a news headline that read something along the lines of "Solar Eclipse Makes America Stop and Stand Together," and you know what?...I think that was absolutely right. For just a few minutes today everything stopped because we were all so busy looking at something beautiful that was happening outside of all of our situations. There was nothing we could do except to stop and admire the beauty of our infinite galaxy. We were involuntarily taking place in a ballet that has been happening long before we've had the technology to see where we even stood on the dance floor. The sun stood still, and the moon arrived and left in what felt like a single breath; and so have we, back to conflict, back to fear, back to hating one group or the other...
It really all is so...brutal.
Luke 6:31 - "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
Luke 6:35 - "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back."
Mark 12:31 - "...'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment great than these."
We've all heard these scriptures. We've basked in the childlike innocence of wonder when thinking of loving someone who said something nasty to you, or blessing someone that hurt you, but what about if they're marching on your doorstep telling you that your whole existence doesn't matter? What if you feel scared or frightened that your skin color has isolated you because of a history that you personally had nothing to do with? What if someone voted for a President that, when he spoke, felt like he was immediately attacking you and your entire family? How can you show love when this is happening?
I've read some beautiful articles this week of black men speaking with KKK members, and through sheer love and care coaxing them out of the hood that no longer made any sense. There were also videos of men and women of different racial backgrounds helping Trump supporters pierce their way through a crowd of hate to get to their own protest box. I've had phone calls and dinners with friends who support the President and have what seem to be deeply varied views of my own, yet here we were having the deepest conversations about anything else in life. The chance to bring unity is there, it's very ripe for the harvest, but we seem to lean towards the worst whenever the chance comes around.
There are moments that we come across every single day to deliver a loving outcome, but it doesn't always seem the most capable of being chosen. It's like asking a child if they want to build a sandcastle, or just kick a bunch over. Sure, some kids may want to actually build it, but many, like us, would display an eagerness to arrive at a destructive nature that seems to come so naturally to us. Why listen to someone when you can just shout at them to change? Why help someone when they don't deserve it because of what they seemingly stand for?
Such a beautiful word.
It's defined as "The ability to understand or share the feelings of another." Think about that for a moment. Empathy.
This, this is where love can begin to stem from. We all, black, brown, white, asian, whatever, need to be willing to stop jumping to such large conclusions and take a moment to try and let the other side explain themselves. Now, I don't think that we're always going to wind up agreeing on certain things...but what we can arrive at is a conversation that may clear up misunderstandings in things that have been miscommunicated from our upbringing or backgrounds. Let's take the statue controversy as an example. Here's a group of white people marching with torches in protest of the removal of what they consider a valuable, historic monument. In this controversy an innocent women was senselessly murdered while speaking out against this movement, and that alone makes it incredibly easy to want to pour hatred out in defense of her young life taken. I've heard plenty from both sides from articles, broadcasts, interviews, etc. What most of us seem to agree on is that racism is bad, and Nazism is an evil movement that has been around for far too long, but I was reading up on why people join these movements and it's interesting. In a wonderful article by Terrence McCoy from the Washington Post, it was written that many white men join the Alt-right movement because of fear... Many of them aren't so much angry at minorities as much as they are scared that they won't have a place in this country. Check out these little blurbs from it.
"Peyton Oubre, 21, of Metairie, La., perceived it after graduating from high school when he was looking for a job. “Where I live, go to any McDonalds or Walmart, and most of the employees are black,” said Oubre, who is unemployed. “And I could put in 500 applications and receive one call. Every time I walked into Walmart, there were no white people, and how come they are getting hired and I can’t?”
“White privilege,” he said. “I’m still waiting on my privilege.”"
"For Connor Perrin, 29, of Austin, who grew up upper-middle class, it was during college when he felt campus liberals were ostracizing his fraternity because it was white. “If only people would stop attacking us,” he said.“I can’t say anything just because I’m white. I can’t talk about race, and I can’t talk about the Jews because I’ll be called an anti-Semite, and I can’t say I want to date my own race.”"
I don't agree with this movement (Alt-right), particularly for the violent actions of the past week, but when I read these small sections it moved my heart a little. We're all people that just want to be heard, loved, and respected. I've heard plenty of Hispanic men say that they would only ever marry a Hispanic woman, yet, if a white person says the same thing we immediately call it being racially inconsiderate. Doesn't that seem a bit backwards? And I get it, we're all hurt, we're all confused, we're all angry, but we need to be willing to sit down with one another and talk some of this shit out. How often are we going to keep crucifying people for the sins of their great grandparents? How often are we going to take what one person of a different race said about our own and superimpose it onto people who would have loved you from the beginning if you hadn't approached them from hurt?
I don't have all of the answers, but what I can say is that we need to take hold of one another in this broken world and make room for everyone. So, here's a challenge for everyone reading this. Make an effort this week to reach across the aisle. Take a breathe before posting that thing to Facebook, take a moment to consider that comment you are about to write, and really ask if your pride is all that is at stake. This week make an effort to hear out someone you don't agree with, and even if they present a doctrine or answer that you can't get behind, choose to love on them anyways. Do something kind for someone you don't see eye to eye with, because it's too important that we look towards one another for help. In a world where politicians seemingly spout nonsense across borders at one another, we can't trust anyone else to do what we really have the power in our hands to do. It should start with every single one of us individually making the effort to bring that positive change we hope to see in the world.
Reach as far as you can in your sphere of influence, and just trust that when you do, it'll convince others to bring that same change in their own environments.
Thank you for sticking with me through these heavy thoughts. I know much of what I've said may upset some of you, but that's not my intention at all. I just want us all to wipe the mud and dirt off of our hearts so that we may clearly see through to one another.
Go in peace, and be the change that you want to see in this shattered world.