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Tag Archives: social justice

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

A Middle-Class, Middle-aged White Woman Talks About Racism

First, no I’m not a Karen. But that is my gender and generation.

Second, there is no way I can comprehend what it is like to be black in America (that’s kinda going to be part of my point). But that also gives me a chance to speak to the others out there like me, or the Karens. Just because we don’t really know what it’s like, doesn’t mean we cannot add value to the situation. We can sympathize, empathize, and lend our voice to speak up for others. Changes don’t come unless people unite.

powerful-quotes-martin-luther-king-jr

I was born into a middle-class white family in the late ’70s. Picture me as a first grader, fascinated by the noise my corduroy pants made when I walked. My small world consisted of avoiding being threatened by my sisters when I sang all the songs from the movie Annie and trying not to wear out the zipper on the pocket of my Kangaroo tennis shoes. One day in school we are taught about a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a brave and respected man who made a difference for a lot of people in something called the Civil Rights movement. Also, he seemed very exotic to me (not that I knew what that meant). We were told he was black. I didn’t understand why I got a stern talking to when I used an actual black crayon to color him in on my coloring page in school. I was just told he was black. You see, I’m sure I had encountered black people, but I didn’t realize what that meant. I took it literally. People looked all kinds of different ways, and I didn’t give it much thought. I doubt I knew I was white. I thought I was sorta peach or apricot.

So in the innocence of being a kid, I had to figure out that the colors of people weren’t exactly literal and that some time in the past people that came in different colors had not treated each other well. It seemed like it was now all okay though because of that movement this brave man had been part of. We learned it as history, not an ongoing struggle, and when you’re a middle-class white kid, it’s not something you really grow up understanding or seeing every day. For the longest time, I guess I took for granted that the Civil Rights movement of the past meant racism was over now. I haven’t been trying to ignore it all these years. This was not intentional. It just hasn’t been something I noticed in my life. If you’ve been living your life on the other side of the race divide, I’m sure that sounds fairly stupid. But it’s true. At least I’m being honest.

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person with a tendency to empathize well. I’ve even done some of those emotional IQ tests and scored high. Yay me! And no, I’m not asking for any cookies.

But maybe I haven’t been very observant. Until more recently. I grew up, went places, read a lot, watched movies and tried to observe the world around me better. Sometimes you don’t want to believe what you learn. It hurts to see others who are put down and treated unjustly.

I asked God once to break my heart for what breaks his. Don’t ever pray that if you don’t mean it. Several years ago now, I learned about human trafficking, which is modern day slavery. It makes me sick that people still own other people and the atrocities of what these slaves have to endure. People are NOT property. No race, no gender, no children should ever be owned. A body may be owned, but not the inner person… until it persists so long that they give up. They let go of their identity and die a little inside. I HATE this. What is happening in our country right now is not just the result of a case of police brutality, which may or may not be based on race. It is so much deeper than that. Slavery in the literal sense ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, but in many cases true freedom still has not been achieved. I believe it’s a deep seated cancer that got into society long ago. As with most things, this is not necessarily true for the majority, but it only takes a few to taint everyone. Not all white people are running around having secret meetings in silly white hoods. I would venture to say most white people are not actively condoning racism. Many of us are disgusted by it. And on the other side, we see a people that has been held down for so long that many of them have lost their hope. They are stuck in cycles they just can’t seem to break, not because they don’t want to, but because they’ve never really been taught how or given the means to do it. (More on this in a later post, I think)

I used to think things were different, and I used to think everyone had an equal chance, but it is so much more complicated than that. More recently, my husband and I have watched some things that raised up more awareness in me and made me think. All of these are either based on true stories or portray a reality. First we finally watched the series The Wire. Season four, the one about the school kids in Baltimore, brought me to tears and broke my heart. Then we watched the movie The Green Book. It takes place in a time of segregation, but it showed the development of a friendship between two unlikely men, one black and one white (it’s more complicated than just that though). Netflix made a short series called When They See Us, about the Central Park Five. And most recently we watched Just Mercy. There are more out there. Plenty of documentaries and books too. These are just a few things that haunted me.

I don’t have solutions that will change society overnight. But I am hopeful that we have reached a point where more people are opening their eyes. I hear people saying we can fix this at the polls. But it’s not about politics. It’s about individuals. There needs to be a dialogue. We all need to try to understand each other. Change will have to happen from the bottom up, not from the top down. We may look different, but beneath our skin color, we really aren’t. We have the same basic needs. We all want to be loved, to be accepted, to know our loved ones are safe, to know that we are safe. We all laugh and cry. We feel joy and agonize in grief. I am sure there are more people who want to do good and see equality than there are those vile people who want to poison and divide society. We must be a bigger number, united in love. As Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Speak out. But you also have to do it in love. I think sometimes we see problems as bigger than we are and think we cannot make a difference. Maybe not alone. But if we come together, light always wins over the darkness.

The least we can do is try to understand. Then we have to find a way to “be the change we wish to see.” That’s going to look different for everyone. But once you see the injustice, you have to do something. Start by following the command to love one another. Much will fall into place and healing will begin if we can do that. Loving means we must listen to each other and respect each other. And let’s please all agree to stop letting an irresponsible media further divide us. Let’s listen to each other, not them.

So come on, Karen. Put down that bottle of wine, cancel your nail appointment and channel that anger over the sign in the supermarket being in the wrong place into doing something good, something that makes a real difference. Become a Karen with a cause.