I don’t often write about current events. It takes me time to process what I see going on out there, and because I purpose to do my best to speak hope, to live love, and to encourage others, I find it difficult to respond to much of what is going on in the world in such a manner. I am deeply disturbed by the many stories I hear of violence, injustice, and a general disregard for for human life. I lose sleep over these stories. Some days I cannot function because of my anger and grief on behalf of those who have been wronged. On some days, paralyzing what-ifs and terrorizing fears hold me at the throat.
What I find especially sad today is that for some people, many people, life is not about what-ifs and fears. It is about devastating loss, real injustice, and clear dangers that they cannot escape on their own. We live in societies with systems and structures that do not reflect value for all human life, because behind the systems and structures there are real people who either have no respect for life, or they hang back and watch the systems run and with inaction and silence, thereby passively condoning the injustice.
We promote oppression with attitudes and responses that diminish the pain and plight of others. We speculate. We justify. We stereotype. We hide. We close our eyes and ears to reality because the mess is so big, we can’t bear to acknowledge it. We don’t want to be responsible for doing something about it. I understand. I feel overwhelmed too. I’m a nobody. What can I do?
Can we open our eyes (or even better, our hearts) to the oppressed? Can we acknowledge that we are part of systems that oppress other people, even if we ourselves do not mean to harm anyone? Can we start talking about how to connect with the people around us, to hear their stories and struggles no matter how different they might be from us, and seek understanding? Seek real solutions? Can we be honest about our own fears and attitudes and how they keep us from loving others? Can we seek to live out love instead of just debating issues and taking sides in a useless war of words that help no one? Can we acknowledge our ignorance?
Somewhere along the line, calling someone ignorant became derogatory. The word simply means, “to have a lack of knowledge or information.” If we’re honest, can we acknowledge that every one of us is ignorant about something (probably many things)? Can we own that we often see (and align ourselves) with only one side of a story, which is a lot easier to do when we refuse to listen to other perspectives, often out of self-preservation? One side of anything is not the whole reality, and in some cases, is not reality at all for those who are directly involved in a situation.
We have to learn to listen to each other. We have to care about the long-term effects of the attitudes we cultivate, and we have to care about the things we teach our children, both by what we say and how we live. We have to know that we passively participate in injustice if we do not actively seek to end it by choosing love first and always, sometimes at a great cost to ourselves. We have to value every human life; the unborn, elderly, black, white, homosexual, heterosexual, married, single, divorced, rich, poor, housed, homeless, male, female, sick, healthy, and every other category that exists.
To those who carry deep wounds because no one has taken the time to hear your story, to walk beside you, and love you with more than words, I am sorry. I am sorry for the times I have missed those opportunities because I was busy, ignorant, or selfish.
You matter. Your story matters.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5