Death does not discriminate.
NEITHER SHOULD GRIEF.
There I sat, with an arrow of truth piercing my heart. It was the beginning of the sermon, but for the next 30 minutes, I hardly heard anything else. Those words sucker-punched my psyche, revealing a truth about myself I had denied far too long.
And if racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior, then I can no longer deny the fact that I am a racist. Because I have not grieved equally.
I dismissed the death of Alton Sterling.
I barely noticed the death of Philando Castile.
Yet I sat up and paid attention when five Dallas Police Officers were gunned down Thursday night.
I thought that if I grieved for the children – of all races, nationalities, and cultures – who suffered due to the cruelty or negligence of their parents or caregivers, that would be enough. I thought that if I grieved for those who suffered with terminal illness, physical injury, or permanent disability, that would be enough. I thought that if I grieved for those that lived in poverty, victims of civil and political unrest, that would be enough. But it’s not.
Too often, I’ve been guilty of overlooking injustice in my own community, inside my own little slice of this great big world. I’ve turned a blind eye to those who feel marginalized and alone. I’ve chosen to devote my time and energy to helping others who look a lot like me, in places that are comfortable and familiar, rather than reaching across cultural, ethnic, and economic lines to make a difference.
I must do better.
And so, I begin with this: an apology. To my friends of color, particularly my African-American friends: I apologize. For not seeking to better understand your struggles. For not doing more on your behalf. For speaking too much and not listening enough. For my pride and self-centeredness that kept me from walking a mile in your shoes – or, at the very least, walking that mile with you.
My word for this year is “TRANSFORM.” It’s not simply a goal to be attained, but rather a lifestyle to be lived. Though I certainly had my own expectations of what that might look like, I’m learning that the job of transformation is not up to me. Rather, it’s my God who directs the transformation the way He sees fit, in areas He alone knows best. My eyes have been opened to the harsh reality of my own ugliness, which now lies naked and exposed for what it is. My hope and prayer is that God will begin that process of transformation in my own heart even as this city I love seeks healing and restoration out of brokenness and tragedy.
I must do better. May I learn to love mercy, rather than cast judgement. May I learn to do justly, rather than hide behind the shroud of ignorance and denial. May I learn to walk humbly with my God, serving others as Christ would call me to do.