Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lives Matter

I have a confession to make.  I don't know everything.

I realize that's a shock, but it's true.  As a sign language interpreter I feel like I get surface knowledge of almost everything under the sun, but sometimes the things I learn just barely scratch the surface of deep issues.

I wanted to make sure you all knew that before I dove in here today.  I don't know everything.  This post isn't about how much I know.  It isn't about who is right or wrong in situations.  It's not a news source.  It is, however, a way for me to process my thoughts and some of the thoughts of those I interact with.  Thoughts about what?

Black Lives Matter.

Ever since the decision not to indite the officer in the death of Michael Brown, I've seen the hashtag #blacklivesmatter all over my Facebook and Twitter feed.  In doing some research, I found that the hashtag actually started in 2012 after the controversy over Trayvon Martin's death.

When I first saw it, I felt unsettled.  Not because I don't believe Black lives matter.  Simply because I feel like ALL life matters.  I struggled with the fact that people were emphasizing that the lives of Black people were important, when it felt like it could be fueling the flame of anger both from the Black community and against it.  Every time I saw #blacklivesmatter, I thought #alllivesmatter.

My problem here is that once I thought #alllivesmatter, I moved on to another story.  Yes, the violence that has happened affects me, but it affects me in the way that Hurricane Sandy affected me.  I was very sad for everyone involved, I sent some money in to help rebuild, I said a few prayers for people, and then I went to my job.  I had no real change in my life as a result of it.  That's how I've responded when seeing #blacklivesmatter.  My heart hurts for those affected.  I'm irritated by protesters laying down on freeways because they're putting lives at risk.  I pray for our country to work together to solve this issue.  And then I watch the next episode of Once Upon a Time.

Nothing changes.

Nothing changes except that I'm still bothered by the hashtag, because all lives matter.

And then I read through a conversation today about this very topic and something someone said struck me.  He seemed to come from the same view that I had been having, and asked if we were going to call out every sect of life... #asianlivesmatter, #womenslivesmatter, etc.

It stopped me in my tracks.

Because I fight for women's equality in every aspect of life.  Home, church, internationally, etc.  I get angry when people (who aren't directly affected by this) say it's not that big of a deal when I see my sisters hurting.  When I saw #womenslivesmatter, I suddenly felt a kinship with the phrase #blacklivesmatter.

It's not the same.  Not at ALL.  I would never assume it is.  We're talking about momma's losing their babies, about people growing up in poverty and not knowing how to get out.  We're talking life and death here.

I finally understood, however, that #blacklivesmatter is not saying Black lives matter MORE.  It is saying that Black lives matter WITH everyone else's life.  And it doesn't matter if I agree with court decisions or not, if I'm Black, White, Middle-Eastern, or a Time Lord.  It matters that I can stand and say, "I understand you are hurting.  I will pray for your community.  I will be a peace-maker where I can.  I love and respect you as a fellow human being."

These are things that would come out of the mouth of Jesus if He were living in the middle of the United States today.  These are things that the Bible talks about: "Blessed are the peacemakers."  Jesus came for the broken.  He walked away from the self-righteous who said they didn't need healing, and cried with those who were broken and hurting.  He loved people.  He was revolutionary, because He connected with people where they were, and then allowed them to grow with Him.

And so that is my new prayer for our country.  That Jesus would be able to connect with those who are broken and hurting and angry.  That His voice would be voice they hear, both deep in their hearts and spoken loudly on the streets, in the churches, and yes, all over Facebook.  And then I pray that He would lead each hurting heart on a journey toward healing and freedom in Him.  Allowing people to work together to create healthy change, in personal lives and across our country.  I pray that #blacklivesmatter would become a resounding shout of the goodness of what God can do in people who are willing to listen.

I will pick up the banner of my friends and colleagues.  I will not pretend to understand what it feels like, but I will say that I care and will stand with them.  I will tell people that their lives matter.  And I will pray for Jesus to heal open wounds.  Why?

Because lives DO matter.

1 comment:

Patricia Krank said...

Good post. Thanks for your thoughtful words Emily. All lives DO matter as God looks to the heart of each person and so should we.
Love you my smart, funny, thoughtful, loving friend,
Patti