What Can I Do?
On My Heart
My heart, as I know yours is, is heavy with sadness, anger, regret, and not knowing what to do to make things better.
All of us have watched a black man die a horrific death on national television. Each time it is always the same: a white police officer, with his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty seconds. The officer has his hand in his pocket, totally nonchalant about the situation. And then there were the three other officers who watched and did nothing. We cannot believe our eyes. And yet, there it is, playing over and over again in our living rooms.
We have watched peaceful protests rightly calling for justice and reform. We have watched organized rioters loot and burn and steal.
Some call us to address the rights of people of color in this country. Some call for us to tackle the destruction of property and the assaults and deaths of community members.
And so, I feel caught in a place where there seems to be nothing that I can do. Then I remember who I am and to whom I belong, and I know that is not true.
As a predominately white community of faith, we struggle even to begin to understand the depth of the anguish and heartache in communities of people of color. We want to make a start, but we are afraid that we will offend or make a mistake, or the list goes on.
We can no longer think in those terms. God calls us to stand for and with the oppressed.
So what to do? I would suggest starting with Jane Elliot. Google her. Jane Elliot has spoken out for years about the differences between the treatment of white people and people of color. She said this to a sizable audience: “If you would be willing to be treated the same way as people of color are treated in this country, please stand.” No one stood. Consider that for a moment. Not one person rose from their seat. She went on to say that the fact that no one stood told her that each person in the audience knew the differences, would not want to be treated that way, and yet were unwilling to do anything about changing those differences. Consider that.
When we take that one question to heart, we know that we must change.
Like most of you, I am not willing to succumb to those who believe violence is the way to bring about racial justice or a complete change in our system of government, or whatever it is that these organized rioters want. I know that this isn’t about police – it is about racial equality.
I also am not prepared to say that this country is evil. America has a long history of righting our mistakes. Our flaw is that we are sometimes too willing to think that because everything is right for me, it must be right for you.
Now is a time for God’s people first to prepare; to study and read and talk together about the experiences of people of color in our communities. Then we must begin to have conversations with people of color – no matter how difficult and how many mistakes we make – we must start the discussions.
And we must pray. Of course, we pray for peace in our nation, wisdom for our leaders, and justice for all. However, we cannot stop there. We must pray for the Spirit to move us to action.
There are books that we could begin studying together, and I would welcome the opportunity to lead that study.
I would like to hear from you if you are interested in taking this first step. Even if no one responds, I will schedule a study and pray that the Spirit moves all of us to participate. I hope this can be an in-person study, but if Corona Virus cases increase, we can use Zoom.
I know that the only way my heart will lift is to follow Jesus in standing with the oppressed.
Yours in Christ,