In the past two weeks we have been confronted harshly with the bad choices of a couple of generations. (And in the case of race, it’s much longer than that.)
Just start with the current election cycle. We have two of the most deeply flawed candidates available set in front of us. But who put them there? We did. And now… WE feel stuck? And no matter what the political leaning or religious leaning, we feel like we don’t have any options. It’s a binary, “either/or” world we THINK we live in… and it jams us up.
And now we have the racial tensions front and center once again. So, in social media it’s EITHER… black lives matter OR blue lives matter.
So, when I write a couple of posts that actually get some attention, and I watch comments on friends Facebook pages about what I wrote, those binary thoughts come out all over again.
We can’t handle the tension we really have in our world so we make binary choices. “It’s either this OR that.”
But my contention is this: it’s both and.
I can easily say “Black Lives Matter” because I need to acknowledge pain in my friends’ lives. For my friends, the question honestly is: “What if I’m pulled over?” And at that moment, I don’t pull out my stupid statistics and say, “Well, according to the latest data, you’re more safe than 50 years ago…” At that moment I let them know I hear that fear and I weep with them.
I can easily say “Blue Lives Matter” because I have friends in law enforcement. I know the anxiety they have these days. “What happens on this traffic stop?” And at that moment, I don’t pull out another set of statistics and say, “Well, you know…” At that moment I let them know I hear that fear and worry with them. I want them home safe.
As a believer, as a white man, as whatever other label I need to slap on like I’m driving in a NASCAR race… I know these tensions exist and I will not live with either/or choices anymore.
Several months ago in a clergy meeting someone offered up what they truly believed was what I would best call an “altruistic” or “utopian” answer. They said, “I’m colorblind.”
Here is my tension: I am NOT colorblind. And Black Lives Matter. And Blue Lives Matter. And Muslim lives matter. And gay lives matter. And Christian lives matter.
I know I see color. In my flawed humanity I will admit I see color and there are times that is a beautiful thing… and there are other times it is an ugly thing (on my part). There are times I see color and rejoice at the differences. The beauty of difference in appearance, culture, music, literature, etc., delights me.
There are times I see color and tense up. And I know I have those moments. I wish they didn’t exist. But they do. And I’m sorry. It’s the tension in which I live.
As a white man, I have to acknowledge those tensions. In a way, I can’t apologize for those tensions. But I’m done with this forced binary thinking.
People keep asking, “Where do we start?”
For me, that is probably a good spot. Just recognize the tension and then deal with it. I need to ask my black friends, “How can I help? What do you see IN ME that needs some work?”
And that is another deep flaw I’ve had. I haven’t asked that question enough. I have asked that of my gay friends, my Muslim friends, and others… but I have not asked that enough of my black friends. And I am deeply sorry.
Let us refuse the “either/or” and work to live in the “both/and.”
It starts with me. It starts with the cross of Jesus Christ. I lay my life down and ask Kingdom truth, Kingdom power, to become my reality. Not the political, cultural rhetoric flying around me. I need the rhetoric of Kingdom language flowing through my soul.