My newsfeed has been filled with sadness, anger and grief this morning. Many have been more articulate than I can be over what has happened in the last few days, and when you add the last few weeks it is overwhelming. Yesterday, I was trying to make sense of two more police related shootings of African American men: Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and then Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
Since I know many police officers and retired officers, I also know they put their lives on the line every day and never know what each day will bring. I also know that African Americans live in deep fear everyday and in the last couple of years those fears have been made public. Reality isn’t just what the dominant culture says it is, because the dominant culture is protected. As a woman, I have different experiences and fears, but it isn’t that I will be shot because my skin is the wrong color. Or pulled over because I might look like I don’t belong.
As I went to bed last night, there was a news flash that there was a shooting at a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas. I made a comment among some friends, but I didn’t stay up to find out what was going on. This morning the number of police officers that were killed staggered me. Five police officers were killed and seven were injured as well as two civilians. What little is known at this time is that the shooter that is dead wanted to kill police officers, particularly white officers.
I am soul-sick. There have been so many posts, by so many people I know that give voice to this grief, and pain, and yes, anger. Fingers will be pointed, blame assigned and hours of talking heads will dissect what has happened and is happening. Those voices will feed our own sense of rightness and judgement as to why these things occur, but it won’t change anything.
my heart is broken.[e]
Listen to the weeping of my people
all across the land:
“Isn’t the Lord in Zion?
Is her king no longer there?”
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then have my people
not been restored to health?
If only my head were a spring of water,
and my eyes a fountain of tears,
I would weep day and night
for the wounds of my people.
These verses, from Jeremiah 8: 18-19 21-22; 9:1 come at a time of great unrest and grief and violence. Jeremiah had a way of speaking truth that made him terribly unpopular. He was clear what God required which was justice, love and righteousness. These words are so often used because they articulate a deep longing for that time when we are not bombarded and consumed by a world so filled with hatred, war, anger, injustice and violence. Where is the balm that will comfort us and the physician who will heal us?
Right now in our country, the hatred and the violence is welling up and destroying any sense of what is good and right and just. Our fears are causing us to be hateful and mean-spirited and cruel. We judge persons by the color the skin, their sexual orientation, their religious and ethnic affiliations, their age, their culture, their social class. Then we post ugly memes on social media, send out false and horrible e-mails with little truth attached and surround ourselves with people who agree with us so we do not have to confront our own demons and dare I say it, sins.
I am grieving. I am praying for our eyes to be opened to our own sin and brokenness and how complacent we are to those injustices given to those who are different from us. I am praying that our ears will be opened to the cry of those powerless and afraid that we might respond with love and compassion. I am praying that our hearts will be opened to the Love and Light of God, that it might root out the darkness and ugliness and hatefulness that resides there. I am praying that God’s grace will haunt me until I am unwilling to be silent when I need to speak words of hope and justice and that I am willing to love all people as I have been loved.