A Third Way

I have written and re-written my thoughts on the current situation in America several times now. Blogging helps me to organize and process my thoughts. I wasn’t necessarily going to share the blog, it was mostly for my own mental clarity, but then I unintentionally became included in a conversation that brought some startling clarity to my muddled thoughts. Through the course of the conversation, I realized that I could have ancestors that were part of the one half of “white” America that fought, bled, and died to free the slaves. I could have ancestors that didn’t immigrate to America until after the Civil War. I could have been raised to believe that we are all part of the human race, that diversity is a beautiful thing, made by God’s design. I could have never participated in, or ignored, an act of racism in my whole life. But, as I was informed, none of that matters, I am apparently still complicit because of the color of my skin. I have been told that even if I had parents that grew up dirt poor, I am still guilty of benefitting from the wealth made on the backs of slaves. I now know that I can be outraged at injustice, sympathetic towards the plight of black Americans and demanding change, I can be sorry for all the discrimination that my fellow Americans have experienced and it’s not enough. I cannot just be sorry, I have to bear the guilt of sins I didn’t commit.

Why is that? In my conversation with someone recently, they made it clear that my unwillingness to admit personal guilt made me a part of the problem. I guess I fail to see how. I am actively acknowledging injustice, expressing sympathy and demanding change, just like everyone else. I am listening to black voices, researching the idea of systematic racism, looking at disparities in the judicial system. Why am I being told that I’ve been programmed, that I am trying to lessen my guilt because I don’t want to feel it, that I am turning a blind eye to disparity, that I need to enlighten myself? I can say over and over that I believe racism exists in America today and that it is not acceptable. But if I suggest that not all white people are racist, or share information from black conservatives suggesting that their culture plays a role in creating a stereotype, it immediately and automatically cancels out my initial statement that I 100% acknowledge and oppose racism. I firmly believe we can all be a part of the solution, without being inherently guilty of being a part of the problem.

So why is it that acknowledgement, sympathy, and even outrage isn’t enough if it isn’t accompanied by some form of expression of guilt or repentance? Why is the church so quick to accept this demand? Why are they so quick to follow the narrative being fed by the lamestream media? Why, when something seems like a humanitarian issue on the surface, do we just fall in line and not seek out the root of it? With Covid19 it was “If it saves just one life, it’ll all be worth it.” What if the cost of that one life is another? And now it is racism. Yes, it exists, but why? Can we look deeper or are we just going to bow down, get on our knees and kiss the feet of people who are seeking equality? Does that make any sense? Is the church just full on accepting the blame and guilt because it feels Christ-like, or are they too timid to question the narrative?

I agree that listening to people who have experienced any form of oppression is important, but the second that my freedom to speak to the situation is silenced because of the color of my skin… is the second that racism is reversed. Silencing a people group based on their race is, by definition, racist. You don’t have to agree with my thoughts or like my questions, but that doesn’t mean I can’t express them. Truth is not decided by the speaker simply because they fit a certain profile. Truth is objective. Vandalizing, assault, murder, looting… all these things are morally wrong, regardless of any pent up aggression or frustration. Why are we all; Christians, conservatives, and the general public, standing by and allowing this “expression” or “protest?” Why are the rioters being excused for their criminal behavior because it’s based on their feelings? Wrong is wrong: racism is wrong and violence is wrong, it doesn’t matter who is perpetrating it or why. Interestingly enough, we are being shamed into allowing it, and it’s working. Shame is a powerful tool, but bullying a people group into a berated silence just because they fit a certain profile is also racist.

I have always loved different cultures, ever since I was a little girl. I wanted to have a colorful family someday and incorporate all of their cultures into our home and our lives. I have traveled all over the world and enjoyed every culture, every people group I have ever met. When I see people with different skin or different features or different culture, I see God’s paintbrush. I think its beautiful and amazing and I have, on many occasions, wished that American culture was as rich as the others I had experienced. We fostered a couple of boys from Haiti for a year and I loved them with everything in me. A part of my heart is still broken from losing them. I hear stories from other adoptive parents about how their biological kids sometimes get treated differently from their adopted kids. It’s so wrong and anyone who knows me, knows that I would do anything in my power to change that for them. So, imagine my surprise, when much of the world is pointing at me and telling me that I am racist, or complicit in racism. I object! With everything in me, I object. I object to racism and I object to being called racist. Until we stop accepting the roles of oppressed and oppressor, nothing is going to change.

I have been tempted many times to sit this one out, but every time I do, I feel this nudge, this stirring inside, this feeling in my gut that the silence of Christians for so many generations is what got us to where we are at. Authentic Christians are a minority, as is our Biblical worldview, so when the majority of people around us are embracing a certain narrative, doesn’t it make sense to evaluate it and the root of it, before jumping on the bandwagon with everyone else? We can agree with the injustice, we can demand change, and we can seek restoration, all without conceding guilt to a sin that is not ours, without allowing others to shame us into tolerating anarchy and violence in the name of justice. God’s love doesn’t embrace sin, it embraces the broken, and we should do the same.

I read an article recently from a website about mediation. They shared this quote: “Peace is not just about the absence of conflict; it’s also about the presence of justice… A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. But true peace does not exist until there is justice, restoration, forgiveness. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.” (Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)

Somehow, in all of this mess we call the human race, we have to find a way forward. There has to be justice. There has to be restoration and forgiveness. Until both parties are ready to pursue that, things will not change. Sitting back and waiting for the storm to blow over, will not move us toward reconciliation or unity, it will only perpetuate the idea of oppressed and oppressor and validate the criminal actions of anyone who cares to join in, no matter their motive. What the world needs now, is a good dose of truth, and a revolution of love. I hope you can join me in being bold enough to speak truth even when it is unpopular, to speak out when it’s easier to be quiet, to seek kindness, instead of political correctness, and to be an expression of His love, even if it looks different than the world’s broken version of it.

4 Comments

  1. This is so powerful! You have an amazing gift of putting into words what so many of us are feeling and thinking. I just read this in its entirety to my daughter and my husband. My daughter and I agree that the only thing we feel we need to apologize for is, perhaps, not listening enough to our friends who do feel injustice because of the color of their skin. We want to show God’s love and support them so their voices are heard. We ALL have a voice, and no one should be silenced.

    Liked by 1 person

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