This past week two high profile players have joined the chorus of voices shouting for people to notice that black lives matter. Those two individuals were Beyonce’ and Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. I am not going to judge the worth of their actions nor their intentions. What I am questioning is the effectiveness of these protest. If the point of the public protest was just to bring awareness, Ok. But I think by now we are all aware. If the aim was to honor those how have died, I get that. If the goal is to make things better, both of those acts so far seem to have created an opposite effect. A greater divide has occurred. Nelson Mandela has correct. If our goal is reconciliation, both sides of the divide have to come together. And decide to work together to find solutions together and move past the injustices of the past together.
Below are some steps in this process to begin the reconciliation process. I am approaching this with the idea that truly only God can heal this problem; it is, of course, beyond human problem-solving abilities.
1) Admit we each are part of the problem.
As a teen one of my favorite after-school television shows was “Happy Days.” I wanted to be the Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. That was one cool dude. Part his coolness was he was never wrong. One the rare occasion when he had to admit fault, he stumbled over the words. He could never seem to get the entire sentence, “I was wrong” out. It came out more like, “I was wrrooon.” In this race relations issues, its seems that no one wants to come out and admit any culpability. Neither side wants to budge. Neither side wants to admit they each bear some level of responsibility. The rhetoric and divisive attitudes that continue to make matters more toxic and volatile. Until both sides are willing to admit they are part of the problem no real healing is possible.
This quote says it so clearly. “You have a choice. You can either focus on what’s tearing us apart or what’s holding us together.” My issues with the talk so far are that the focus is on all the things that are ripping us apart. There little to no attention paid to those universal values we all share.
2) We need to come to a truce.
At some point for this issue of race to improve we have to call for an end to the fighting. We have to stop seeing the other side as the evil villain that we are bent on defeating. The only way that happens is realizing that what is keeping us apart is sin. Sin is causing the bitterness and hatred. The effects of sin are growing and breeding between blacks and whites. The only thing that can defeat sin is God’s love. Gwen Smith said so beautifully. “When we allow God’s love to trump our anger, we can experience restoration in relationships.”
This nation desperately needs God’s hand of restoration. I fear more and more each day where this situation is heading. It is time to call for a laying down of hateful speech. A laying down of the call for retribution. We need to come together and ask for God to turn the guns into plowshares. Only God can turn weeping and mourning into rejoicing and dancing.
3) We need to be willing to fight for the relationship.
Relationships can feel like climbing Mount Everest, especially the difficult ones. Relationships can feel like the mountain where you can never seem to reach the summit. That usually means the systems you’re using aren’t working.
It’s okay to fall. It’s okay to make mistakes and even be dead wrong. You will get mad. Relationships will cause you frustration. Heck, we are human, and as humans, we struggle with maintaining healthy relationships. But does that mean that we should never be in a relationship? Or does it say we keep fighting for relationships because we would die without them? The racial divide needs the chance to heal. It’s not an option. Here is what is happening in my City of Chicago. From Monday’s Chicago Tribune:
“Chicago has recorded 487 homicides and more than 2,800 people shot so far this year, compared to 491 homicides and 2,988 people shot all of last year, according to Tribune data.
Chicago has a lower homicide rate than many other U.S. cities that are smaller in population.
But this year, the city has recorded more homicides and shooting victims than New York City and Los Angeles combined, even though the two cities are larger than Chicago’s population of roughly 2.6 million.”
It’s painful, it’s exhausting, and it’s humbling, but we have to work together to solve this. It is too important not too.
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