The violent unrest in America this past week, brought on by racism and injustice has reminded us that we live in a world that is not as we want it to be. As with previous weeks, we have invited one of our own, Julie Olson to share her perspective and experience on these issues as it has affected her and her family.
If you have watched the news, scrolled through social media or even listened to others talking about what has been happening in the United States, you will know that this past week has been like something out of a Hollywood movie. The images that have appeared on our screens are tragic and somewhat surreal. Is this really the world we are living in? A pandemic, racial hate crimes, police brutality and rioting?
Just over a week ago, a black American man, named George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis Police officer. A few months before that, an innocent man jogging through a neighborhood in Georgia, was senselessly shot and killed. He was black. His name was Ahmaud. The video evidence in both instances is horrific and gut wrenching. The tragedy of these incidences weighed heavy on all who watched on their screens. The sadness and despair that hung in the air was thick. The outrage and cries for justice welled up within. We felt Hopeless. Helpless…. And then the protests began. And rightly so. What happened to these two men, and many others before them is wrong. Yet, peaceful protests soon turned into violent riots and chaos ensued.
Here in Canada, we may think that this is not our issue. We my think this is only a problem in the States. We don’t have racism here in Canada. We don’t have bad cops here in Canada. White Privilege isn’t a thing here in Canada. If you think that, you are mistaken. If you can walk into a bank and apply for a loan without being looked at suspiciously, you are privileged. If you can pump gas at night without someone looking at you and being afraid of you or calling the cops on you, you are privileged. If you can stroll through a park without being suspect because of the colour of your skin, you are privileged.
This all hits very close to home for me, as an American citizen watching my country in chaos and as a mother of black children. I know the reality these two face, that my other children will never know. I have had to have conversations with my black son that break my heart. People will make judgements on my son because of the way he looks. Do you know I am afraid to let my son get his ears pierced because I am afraid of how he will be judged as a black man with pierced ears? Not because I don’t want him to have them. I actually think he would look good with them, but I fear the judgement that will fall on him because of how he looks and what brush people will automatically paint him with because of it. He has had teachers treat him unfairly because he mumbles like other teens often do, he doesn’t always look up when he talks, like a lot of teens do. But I have to wonder, do they look at that and see a teenager or see a black kid? It is always in my mind that he needs to be on his best, so he won’t be unfairly treated. The fact that is even in my thoughts is because racism is a reality even here in Canada. My kids have experienced it first hand. The stories I could tell you would make your jaw drop and your heart ache.
Black lives matter is the cry. But is there a deeper issue here? Yes, black lives matter, and in the face of what has recently happened, that should be the cry. But at the foundation of it all, shouldn’t it be that all lives matter? God created mankind in His image. We are all God’s children and we all matter to God. So, all lives matter. Yes, police brutality needs to stop. But hating on police and anyone else for that matter is no better. Not all white people are racist and not all cops are bad. Yes, protest! Speak up! Say it loud! Black lives matter. All lives matter! But say it in a way that will be heard. I understand the deep anguish and frustration of some of the rioters. They are enraged at the injustice. We SHOULD be enraged at the injustice. But burning down a city isn’t going to solve the problem. You can’t stop hate with hate.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King
We as believers, need to speak up and use our voices to say ALL lives matter regardless of your race or cultural background. Some may disagree with what I am going to say, but I believe what is happening right now is not a race issue, it’s not a political issue, it’s not a government issue. At the very root of it all, this is a heart issue and a kingdom issue. Jesus stripped everything away, broke it all down to this greatest command found in the gospels and said, “love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Period. He didn’t follow up with a list of who our neighbour was or what our neighbour looked like. He simply said love your neighbour.
We need to speak up and we need to pray. Church we need to pray for peace to prevail so that voices of love can be heard. May we do whatever God has called us to do to love and serve Him and His people the best we can in this chaos. Our God is not a God of chaos. He is a God of love and order. Let us love others and shine His light into this darkness, so our voices can be heard.
Written by Julie Olson