Time has passed since over 112 protests took place in 88 different American cities in response to Alton Sterling’s death. Time has passed, social media has gone quiet about the matter, and news is focused else where.
I wrote about breaking out of silence this summer when I was torn up about all that was occurring in our nation and after reading the stories of those so deeply affected by the different shootings. I’m learning now that time has passed but the divide hasn’t changed… only deepened with this election season.
There is distance. A deep divide in our nation. A rod of tension. A lot of hate. And where there is hate, there is harm.
There is injustice… in more places than one. There is a lack of peace. There is a skewed definition of freedom.
We all have our thoughts, our opinions, our facts, and our feelings. We all have a voice and when violence breaks out and people get killed, our voices all begin to shout. But in the shouting and the arguing and the frustrations, we forget to listen. We forget to listen to our neighbor because we decide we disagree with them before even hearing them. We each cling to our pride and do all that we can to protect “our people”.
What breaks my heart is that it is a continued fight of “my people” and “your people” based off of the colors of our skin or our genders or our economic status. The divide in our nation is inevitable and unavoidable and absolutely heart-breaking.
There is an ongoing harsh history of this land that we live on and call home that cannot be denied, ignored, nor forgotten. There is history that has occurred in this very year that cannot be put aside as the past. The past is very present.
I’m sad because the silence of those in freedom has grown louder than the cries of those of of freedom. I’m sad because the 1960’s sure doesn’t seem like 50 something years ago. I’m sad because I have to take a multi-cultural literature class in college to read in school any piece of writing that isn’t from just a white male perspective. I’m sad because we have to have a month for Black history or else it would never be talked about— yet, it still wasn’t really talked about at my school. I’m sad because white privelege is real and not very acknowledged by the one’s living in it.
For the first time in my life I’ve known, loved, and lived next door to people living below the poverty line. For the first time in my life I’ve dove into researching about poverty, primarily the poverty within the city I’m living in.The research is heartbreaking in every which way… I’ve been and still am in so many ways unaware of all poverty entails. I’ve seen that so often it is something that you’re born into and something the world tells you that you cannot break free from. And I’ve seen that the same thing goes for anyone living under oppression. Oppression isn’t something you bring on yourself, it is something you are born into and something people try to break free from for the rest of their lives.
My thoughts on this page are scattered and have been within my mind for so long that I just had to write. Many of my conversations at school this past month have been about some of these topics and issues I’ve written briefly about. I have friends left and right who are very passionate about these topics and they are friends of different races and backgrounds themselves. I have friends who want to be behind reform and policies. I have friends who want to be in the schools teaching, counseling, or working within the social work field. I have friends who are passionate about being in third world countries fighting for the same justice, freedom, and help out of oppression and poverty. I have one friend who would love to end up in D.C. one day working on making policies and she said something to me that stood out. She said that no matter what policies she is working towards or what job she is in, she will always be within the very communities she is fighting to help. She stated how we cannot bring about reform and create new policies for poverty without actually knowing, loving, and being with the people who are in poverty or who are oppressed.
What a difference it would make if we started to really get to know and love one another.
Lets start to get to know our neighbors. Lets start getting to know the people within the projects. Lets start getting to know the people who sit on the street corners. Lets start getting to know the people in our classes that come from a different backgrounds, cultures, and races. Lets start befriending the stranger who checks us out at the grocery store or who waits our table or who cleans up after us.
Instead of preaching the gospel and the love that it embodies… lets be the gospel. Instead of having close minds and closed views and beliefs… lets open our hearts and minds to see and hear others thoughts and beliefs. Instead of staying confined and comfortable within our own communities… lets share our communities with each other. Lets push on to break free from an “us” vs. “them” life.
This division, this tension, and this distance within our nation isn’t going to just break over time. Time doesn’t heal. The hurt from our history of slavery is still just as present today as it was in the past.
What can heal is genuine care for one another. What can heal is listening to one another. What can heal is respecting one another. What can heal is humbling ourselves out of our prideful nature to see that we each have done wrong, been wrong, and said things wrong. And what can heal is the gospel coming to life through the ways we live our life.
It all starts with listening, loving, and working together for change— from one race to another, from one religion to another, from one ethnicity to another. Lets sit down with one another and have the hard conversations. Lets seek to understand each other a little more and then care for each other in those ways. And lets continue to break out of silence.
As I said last time I wrote, when compassion and communication is lacking, darkness thrives. When compassion and communication are in action, hope arrives.
Let’s let hope arrive in this darker time.