For over a week I’ve been silent. Attempting to put a broken heart into thoughts and thoughts into words and words into something that makes sense. Knowing I have something to say about our nation’s fractions and fissures but not knowing quite how to say it.
So I’ve been quiet.
Even my prayers have been whispers to Jesus. His name repeated over and over and over. Because I haven’t even known what to pray.
And in the quiet, I’ve discovered this one thing.
I want to be part of the healing.
I have dear friends and former students that serve the police force in our community. I have a black brother-in-law. One of my daughter’s dearest friends is black, as is one of my life mentors. To choose one over the other isn’t healing.
Picking sides isn’t wound-binding. It only tears and rips and pulls further apart wounds that already gape, open and oozing.
This battle? It isn’t about sides. And it isn’t really a battle. No.
It’s a war. A war between good and evil. Between love and hate. Between light and dark. Between compassion and malice. Between kindness and violence.
Violence is evil. When black men are gunned down without cause. When police officers are gunned down without cause. It is violent. It is evil. You can’t rationalize it or make it right. And it tears at my soul.
Here is what I know.
I know I’m grateful for the role law enforcement officers play in our society. They run straight into the danger. Risking everything. Every. Thing. Most all desire to protect and serve. A career doesn’t make someone evil.
And a person’s race doesn’t make him evil.
But racism is evil. And it is real.
Several years ago I sat in the back of my classroom as a young black man gave a speech. A kind, compassionate, tender-hearted student. I adored him. I listened as L recounted an experience in a restaurant. He described his treatment as something I can only acknowledge as demoralizing and demeaning and racially motivated.
My student ended his speech with tears rolling down his face.
My world shifted forever in L’s speech. Until then I had only heard about discrimination. I acknowledge its reality, but I had never had to face it like I did that day. That day I was a witness to the real-life scars racism had left on L’s heart.
I had to acknowledge my own white privilege in that speech because I’ve never, not even once, had to consider that I might be treated that way. I have no frame of reference or concept for what that kind of discrimination feels like. And that? It’s privilege.
Just as I acknowledge the good of law enforcement, I must also acknowledge a country that continues to discriminate. The stories are real. Painful. And I need to listen despite my first instinct to deny.
After last week I am desperate to be part of the healing dialogue. I want to support the police officers in my community. I want to support my friends of color and my transracial family, too.
And so I will fight evil with the only real weapons I know.
I will pray before I speak and post and react. I will pray for wisdom and guidance. I will pray that God allows me to see His Truth and not be slanted by what I want to hear. I will pray for healing. I will pray for words of compassion. I will pray for ears that are quick to listen and slow to speak.
Mostly? I will pray.
And if I must choose a side, I will choose Jesus.
His mandates. His words. His desires. His is the side I choose. Because His is the side that chooses love over hate. Good over evil. Compassion over malice. Light over dark. And kindness over violence.