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I have not said much, digitally, about the killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile or the police officers in Dallas last week. Other than face-to-face conversations in my personal and professional circles, I have sat with numbness, deep sadness and rage, and I have practiced a great deal of avoidance. (I haven’t watched videos or press conferences or read the fine details of the shootings.)
Up to this point and for the most part, I’ve chosen to not contribute to the morass of online musings about these events. What could I say that hasn’t already been said?
But I felt moved, as a believer in Christ (read: a believer in love), to say this: Evil and injustice are as old as time. We humans continue to find ways to hurt each other and to foster discord rather than peace and harmony. And it would be easy to think this is all we are. Prejudice. Bias. Hate. Fear-mongering. Division. Partisanship. Memes. Snarky tweets. And many of our social and political institutions concoct and perpetuate these poisons.
But I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. I go through my periods of anger and near-misanthropy, but that’s not who I am. I stand on the side of love, and so many people out there are standing with me. I was blessed to read a post by educator Valencia’s Garden tonight (h/t EduColor) titled “Questions Children of Color are Asking: Am I the Next Hashtag?” In it, she describes reading and writing workshops she recently facilitated with teens to help them cope with the trauma of repeatedly seeing killings played out before them on social media.
Some students expressed fear or hatred of police officers, specifically white police officers, and wondered why police are so afraid of black people. “Before I could move on to anything else in my lesson,” she writes, “I had to address self-love and provide an understanding that we are not helpless and hopeless but we are actually stronger now than we have ever been. What makes us strong is the ability to love, unconditionally.”
Since transitioning out of my state of rage about these killings—and the long line of killings that preceded them—the power of love has been taking root in my heart. As frequently as we hear about these violent events, we just as frequently (need to) hear about the people spreading love. And educators like Valencia’s Garden are prioritizing love in their teaching of young people. As often as I lament that hate just won’t “die out,” love won’t die out either. I’m going to continue seeking out and spreading love when, where and how I can: at work, at home, in my extended family, with my friends, online, at the grocery store. And I hope you’ll join me.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t speak out against wrong and injustice. On the contrary, silence is tantamount to complicity. And make no mistake, my friends, Jesus is a lover of justice, despite how some folks want to characterize him. Many of us are tired and disillusioned and we may not feel like we can do much, but we can start where we are. I'm really not trying to be cliché or overly simplistic about this. But each of us has realms of influence, whether they're families, classrooms, offices, community organizations, boardrooms, police precincts, judicial or legislative chambers or friendships. And we can use them on behalf of what is right. We humans have the obligation and the capacity to pursue both love and justice. Really, our society—our world—can’t have one without the other. As Dr. Cornel West states so eloquently, "Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."
Note: MrYoungGun100 (reveal yourself, friend!) recently commented that I haven’t blogged in nearly two years. I started this post over two hours ago and couldn’t go one minute without an interruption from Mini Mo—until I got her to bed. She’s at least partly to blame for my absence! I’m conjuring up a plan to start posting again though…