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And Justice for ALL

Today I am sitting at the computer with a heavy heart and scraps of paper scattered all around me that hold my thoughts and feelings on the reactions to recent events in racial tension we’ve been seeing.  I’m trying to figure out where to begin.  I’m trying to compile related ideas. I pray for wisdom in saying what needs to be said and in doing it well. I want to say something profound, important, or inspiring, yet I’m pretty sure whatever I say will just get lost in all the current noise.  And this isn’t a normal noise either.  You know when two kids get into an argument on the playground and while one is trying to give voice to his side the other plugs his ears and sings “La, la, la, la, la…” or hums as loudly as possible so he can’t hear the other? Yeah, the noise I’ve been hearing is a cacophony of childish humming and singing. It gives me a headache and a heartache.

There’s just been so much hate lately, and the most noise seems to come from competing and extreme sides, making it hard to hear when you actually want to if you’re anywhere between. If you’ve ever had one political leaning or the other, that does not mean you have to automatically align to everything your side says. It’s not about picking a political side. Look to your own morals and guidance in that. Look to biblical foundations of loving one another. Educate yourself, and do so not by only reading or watching the news that conveniently reflects what you want to hear or what your politicians would have you hear. It’s one thing to not understand, but something else when you cover your ears and won’t even listen.  “La, la, la, la, la!” There is media that will align with any ideas out there, so we really need to be diligent in either finding the least biased information we can, or to at least allow ourselves to see both sides so we can make our own decisions. I have begun to wish we could do politics in more of an a la carte manner instead of having to choose either the beef or chicken entree. Maybe replace the cole slaw with the pasta salad? Or something else entirely. Maybe I just want pizza. Politics as they are are NOT working. While one side denies we have a real problem, the other uses a funeral for a shameless and obvious stunt to gain black votes.

All this hate I’ve been seeing seems to boil down to this: We’re afraid to have our rights stomped on, so we continue to keep our knee of the neck of another? It’s not an either or situation. We should ALL have the same rights. And I have heard and read some absolutely crazy excuses and deflections lately in order to avoid any accountability.  “La, la, la, la, la!” It’s hard to take a real look at what is ugly sometimes. I know because it has taken me 42 years to do it. No wonder we try to pretend systemic racism doesn’t exist. It’s human nature. We are more likely to see only what we want to see and then stop looking, because otherwise we may have to do something and/or face changes in what is comfortable for us.  But now that I’m seeing it, I realize just how hideous it actually is, yet I can’t look away. I just keep thinking, there has to be some way we can fix this.  But as I’ve said, politics are not working. I don’t put my faith in them. I put my faith in the God who sent his son to this world long ago to set an example of love and justice.

“Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people. But these oppressors know nothing; they are so ignorant! They wander about in darkness while the world is shaken to the core.” Psalm 82: 3-5

Oh, boy! Here’s another white girl being brainwashed by the leftist agenda. That’s the latest crazy defense I’ve heard. If a white person so much as considers the existence of racism, we are viewed as being forced into white shame. “La, la, la, la, la!” For the record, no, I’m not taken in by that bull either. I don’t feel guilty at all for being white. There’s nothing I can do about the color I was born. You should never have to apologize for something you did not get to choose, only the choices you make. And I won’t base my opinions of others on their appearances either, only on their actions. Hate speaks louder than words and it comes in all colors. Individuals make choices. I choose to stand up against hate.

You must remember that there is a time for all things, as in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of hate towards protesters lately. I was even sent a video of a man saying that Pam cooking spray stood for ‘Protesters Are Maggots’ and it could be used to spray the front end of any type of truck before you use it to plow down protesters. Sadly, I think this was meant to be humorous. It made me angry and hurt for our loss of humanity. These messages often come from people who claim they are patriots and say they want to protect their rights…as long as it’s convenient for them. An example? If we are going to uphold the 2nd Amendment (and I am a big believer in this- it’s about keeping the government from oppressing us, not just home defense), we also have to uphold the 1st Amendment which protects the freedoms of speech, assembly, and petition, which is what protesters are doing. Violent and destructive rioting is illegal, but peaceful protesting is not.  You may not like what these protesters have to say, but they have the right to say it. You know who was a great protester who stood up for justice and even threw around a few tables?  Jesus.  Yet I’ve seen quite a few fellow “Christians” lumping all these protesters together as bad people and not only discounting what they are saying without even trying to understand it, but spouting some pretty horrible language and generalities about them as well. I don’t think Jesus is very happy about that. One of my Facebook friends shared this amazingly well articulated article from a few years ago this week and I loved it. If you have some time and an open mind, please read it. It’s quite powerful.

livesmatter

And while I’m addressing some of the absolutist ideals I’ve come across lately, here are a few more:

If you support BLM you hate police or If you are a cop, you hate black people. Neither of these ideas is exactly true. Whereas the Black Lives Matter movement certainly has its roots in and has focused on police brutality against Blacks in America, it really has morphed into more than that as it is beginning to bring awareness to more injustices as well. We cannot, without sticking our heads in the sand or putting on blinders, deny this is an issue. The converse of that is that we also cannot say that all police officers are bad people. I truly believe, because I do personally know and respect some of these people, that many become police officers with a heart to help and protect others. That being said, this profession can also draw those who have an agenda of holding power over others, and some are prone to violence. This is why, instead of doing away with police, I believe perhaps an overhaul of the system is needed.  It really doesn’t take very long to become a police officer in comparison to the schooling and training for many other careers, and if we are sending these people out with weapons to patrol our streets, there needs to be better and more thorough training, more psychological evaluations, and much more accountability. There need to be more opportunities for these men and women to interact in settings within the communities they are assigned to, in which both police officers and the citizens can get to know each other, so both sides can be more humanized.  I’m not sure what this may look like in all places, and I realize this idea may seem naive to some, but maybe it’s little meet and greet at a local church, a community barbeque, or a block party situation, but they need to be real and human to each other.

This whole racism thing is just made up because it’s an election year. Seriously?! “La, la, la, la, la!” This was happening under Obama as well. Police brutality spiked and black incarcerations were the highest in California under Kamala Harris, who is now the front runner of Biden’s VP search. Also, Nixon’s own Domestic Affairs Advisor actually admitted, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt their communities.” This has been happening throughout our political history, on either side.

Racism is a politically fabricated scheme so black people have someone to blame for their laziness and has been over since the Civil Rights movement.  “La, la, la, la, la!” I hope most of us can admit that’s pretty ridiculous, yet I’ve heard it.  We didn’t all just live happily ever after then with no remaining issues.  Racism has lived on in various forms. I wasn’t alive before the late ’70s , so I don’t know what it was like before then first hand. I know I don’t hear so much about lynchings and such, but what about Ahmaud Arbery? It took months for his murderers to even be arrested. The defense was, “I was afraid for my life.” Really? Because those were the words of a man whose dad came home and told him they needed to chase down this guy who looked like he may have fit the description of a burglar. Instead of calling the police, they grabbed guns and sought after him as he was out for a run. After Arbery had been struck by their pickup, this man got out of the vehicle and went towards Arbery with a shotgun in hand. When Ahmaud, who had been cornered and was unarmed, attempted to fight back to protect himself, this man was “scared for his life” and shot him… more than once.  There is no doubt that was racism.

You do you. I literally saw this pop up as a hashgtag for the first time yesterday and have already seen a whole message of apathy included with it shared several times over. On the surface it seems like a great idea. You don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. But it’s a cop-out. It’s indifference. According to Elie Weisel, a Holocaust survivor and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” He also said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” He spent his life trying to raise awareness of injustice, and he had a pretty good idea of what that was.

But it isn’t always so blatant, and it’s been ingrained into our society without us even realizing it. In school, I learned about MLK as a sort of hero, but in other places I heard him referred to as a trouble-maker; in fact, as head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover had declared him as “public enemy number one.” People had been afraid of him. This was a man who promoted peaceful protests, making a statement by standing up and having a voice other than the one that was supposed to be heard. This got him killed. There are stereotypes that say most black people in America are lazy, drug dealers, drug addicts, and criminals, but if it is true that these numbers are especially high in, say, black men, then we should ask why.  Are they really just bad people because of the color of their skin? Or is there something that has pushed them into this corner? If it doesn’t seem disproportionate that a third of black males in America will at one time be incarcerated, it should. This is why you should research and have an open mind.  I’m really only now learning about systemic racism and problems in our justice system, but I saw a little video I thought explained some of the basics of it.

 

“So at the heart of Biblical justice is the impartial application of God’s moral law within all realms of society, including economic, political, social or criminal justice. Any other definition of justice won’t suffice.”- Tony Evans

The problem of racism is not something we can fix overnight. It has taken generations to root itself into society. We can start by answering the “who” and “what” questions by trying to help each other listen. This creates awareness. Then we can ask “why” and learn more to gain our answers. But we don’t stop there. Once we know and understand there is a problem and its causes, we have to ask “how” we can fix it. If we can make it to that stage, we can work in our communities first, and eventually to the top.

Think back to any time you have ever been in an argument with someone and the other person was clearly not considering your hurt feelings, though you felt a very real pain. You just wanted him or her to listen to you, but instead your feelings were trivialized or completely ignored, maybe even mocked. You felt pretty frustrated, didn’t you? Who are you or I or anyone to disregard someone else’s feelings without trying to understand them? Your personal experiences are your own, but they paint your outlook on everything else. It is your responsibility as a human sharing this planet to remember the same is true of everyone else. In this, you must use empathy and you must try to understand one another. Be like a child and ask why about everything. If you see a problem you don’t understand, don’t discount that it’s a real problem. Ask why. If you still don’t understand, then ask why again, and again, and again, as many times as it takes.

“At that time I instructed the judges, ‘You must hear the cases of your fellow Israelites and the foreigners living among you. Be perfectly fair in your decisions and impartial in your judgments. Hear the cases of those who are poor as well as those who are rich. Don’t be afraid of anyone’s anger, for the decision you make is God’s decision. Bring me any cases that are too difficult for you, and I will handle them.'” Deuteronomy 1:17

Hitting the Glass Ceiling While Wearing Glass Slippers

I was coloring with my favorite little girl one afternoon when she suddenly started asking me the origin stories of some of the better known superheroes. Personally, I love Batman and told her about Bruce Wayne’s tragic loss of his parents and his way cool butler.

She really wanted to know about Wonder Woman.  I only knew a little, but we happened to be going to a friend’s for dinner that night who is a big Wonder Woman fan, so I told her to ask that evening.

That night, she learned about Wonder Woman and watched the pilot episode of the Linda Carter show from the 70’s. By the end of the night she was wearing a replica tiara, bullet proof bracelets, and holding a golden lasso while spinning.

WonderWoman

And she hasn’t stopped since. My little girl IS Wonder Woman, and I’ve become a big fan too. A beautiful, smart, strong, courageous princess who fights for truth, justice, and love. What’s not to love? Or encourage? I could not ask for a better role model in a world saturated with everything I never want my princess to become.

She is a little girl who always favors the female characters, but in her eyes, even Leia couldn’t compete with her curious love of Darth Vader (though Leia has always been a hero to me), and she was still looking for the perfect hero.

But of course, she doesn’t just want to be strong; she wants to be pretty…and a princess. Naturally, she also still loves the Disney Princesses.  We very recently watched the 2015 live-action version of Cinderella, who happens to be one of her beloved princesses.

Now, I know there are arguments out there that these old fairy tale princesses teach young women to be weak and to depend on being saved by their “prince charming,” but I think that just shows a lack of responsibility in teaching our young girls the values and virtues of each of those princesses.  Is Cinderella weak because she has to be whisked away to the castle by her prince? I don’t think so. She was good, kind, and beautiful, and was in the end rewarded for it.

The historic context is the key to making excellent lessons out of these “helpless” princesses.  Our young ladies today need to understand what life was like for women once upon a time, that they were seen as unintelligent property good only for cleaning and having babies. But in these situations, these princesses were strong in the ways they were able to be strong. They were dignified in spite of it, and though women have not quite broken through that glass ceilings around the world, and not even always in the Land of the Free, they gave little girls hope. We cannot discount that today as weak. We should be proud of how far we’ve come. (and let’s not forget the B.A. Mulan, who is based off a Chinese legend)

Princess Diana lived in a land without men, and beyond learning to be strong and to defend herself and what is right physically, her virtues are the same as many of those fairy tale princesses. Many of those values of her femininity are what makes her such an amazing character.

Our little one is not quite old enough that we feel she should see the new Wonder Woman movie yet, but she will one day, and I wonder if she will get goosebumps and tear-filled eyes when Diana climbs up a ladder and rushes through No Man’s Land the way I did. Will she also get goosebumps and tear-filled eyes when Belle (Emma Watson) dances with the Beast in the grand ballroom brought to life…the way I did? I really hope she does.

Heroes don’t have to only be physically strong. A real hero is also emotionally strong, unafraid to show a tender side, and does right, even when it is hard. Mostly, heroes need to stand for something and reflect something we want in ourselves.

 

My Words as Weapons: Giving Back

I read, or heard, or somehow picked up an idea recently.  Apparently there is something in the Talmund that says that each person must think from a position that the world was an elaborate gift/creation given only for him or her.  At first that seems oddly selfish, but the idea is really anything but selfish.  This perspective is meant to create a sense of responsibility for making the world, this special gift, a better place so that each resident here on Earth will always strive to make a difference.

I think that’s a marvelous idea!

Helping-Hands

People can take this to mean we need to take better care of our natural resources in this world, and so trees are being planted and better sources of energy are being researched and implemented.  All of that is great, because I do believe God wants us to take care of what he has given us.

He also gave us another, invaluable resource: each other, and we must learn to take care of one another better. We must stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. People are resources and we all have our place in this world. Some have strayed far from their purpose, and still others have had their purpose stolen away from them through the cruelty of those who strayed.

We need to break that cycle and begin a new one. The “pay it forward” idea is not new.  If somebody does something for you, receive it as a blessing and find a way to bless the next person.  If you see someone oppressed, reach out to give him or her freedom, and in turn that person will help free others.

I hate to see injustice and I feel human trafficking is just about the worst atrocity out there. Although I am not always in a position to take physical action against it, I do my best to spread the word and create awareness so that people who are in a position to take physical action can do so.  You don’t have to swoop into brothels and pull out children or work in a safe house where survivors are rehabilitated to be “fighting.”  Use your words as weapons and help spread the word on the injustice of human trafficking, and any other injustice out there you know about.  When you do that, you are helping.  You are giving back. Learn to do what you can, but don’t do nothing.

Where Do We Go from Here?

I pulled this image from a great and brief blog post by Rob Morris of Love 146

I pulled this image from a great and brief blog post by Rob Morris of Love 146

Exactly a week ago I had a large red X drawn on my hand as a symbol to bring awareness to modern day slavery, more commonly referred to as human trafficking (a term many don’t understand), and so did many others.  I blogged about Shine a Light on Slavery Day and the End It Movement, and so did many others.

It was awesome to see celebrities and regular people flooding social media with inspiring quotes and pictures of them showing off their marked hands.  People who had been unaware were asking questions, which was exactly the point.

But now what?  I wore an X on my hand and more people know about slavery, but what can we do about it?  Plenty.  You can give to an organization that fights the atrocity.  You can find a way to get involved in the fight through one of the great organizations out there.  You can blog about it or find your own way to continue to spread the word.

JUST DO SOMETHING. Sorry- I don’t usually do the all caps yelling thing, but I really need to emphasize this idea. You need to find your own way to contribute to the fight.  Imagine if everybody who now knows about the 27 million slaves today took some sort of action.  That number would fall drastically.  So help to end slavery.  How?  Below is a list of several organizations I know of, and there are so many more.  I suggest you research what is available in your local community too.

Love 146

A21 Campaign

Not for Sale

Polaris Project

Free the Slaves

International Justice Mission

Brandishing, No, Wielding My Sword

Yeah, I like the connotation of wield better than that of brandish.  One is just waving a weapon in a menacing fashion, like a threat.  But the other implies the action of actually using a weapon.

I don’t want to just threaten like a child playing a game.  I want to actually kick some butt!  In this case, human trafficking.  I will draw my sword, advance, and fight, wielding said sword, and draw blood.

Warrior Woman Silhouette

I’m not a girlie girl.  I’ve said that before.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ll watch a chick flick, but I’m not going to spend the extra money to see one in a theater.  Only the most epic tales of courage and awesome special effects warrant taking out the small loan needed to pay for a trip to a movie theater these days. These have always been my favorite stories, where a lone hero, or a small band of friends or warriors takes on something much bigger than themselves, even when it seems impossible.

I’ve said before that we should never stop fighting just because human trafficking is such a daunting and formidable foe, yet that’s what I have done.  Not on purpose.  I didn’t realize I had given up the fight, but looking over my actions over the last few months, I see I have done very little to advance the cause, and

I am ashamed.

I intended to use some of my new found time in researching, promoting, and finding ways I can help. Instead, I read a book, started following some organizations on Twitter, and nothing else.

I am declaring it now.  I am recommitting to the cause, to the helpless victims who are suffering, to the vulnerable who need awareness and prevention.  I am recommitting to JUSTICE.

I’m a quiet person, locked inside myself most often, until I see injustice.  It stirs and moves me, igniting a passionate flame in my heart that burns so deeply I know I cannot contain it.

This is what I’m meant to do.  This is what my warrior’s heart is meant to battle, and it doesn’t matter that I’m smaller than human trafficking, because I plan to spread this fire in my back yard and worldwide.  This is a foe worth fighting.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.