Of course, I see…
That your skin color is different from mine
That you are of a different ethnicity than I am
That your hair is a different texture from mine
That your facial features are not the same as mine.
Of course, I hear….
That your speech patterns and inflections and tones are different from mine
That you express yourself differently than I do
That you pray differently than I do
That the story you tell of your life is not the story that I have lived.
Of course, I feel…
That some of your culture and traditions are different from mine
That the broken places in your heart are different from the broken places in mine
That there is segregation between our lives, be it intentional or not
That it is painful to find sturdy common ground on which to live in justice and peace together.
Of course, I know…
That we are both hurt
That we are both angry
That we are both scared
That we are both much-loved children of our mighty God.
Of course, I love you.
I have been dwelling in sadness, anger, and fear over the past few weeks since the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath of that event. It is not this one event that has brought me to this place of contemplation. It is more that this one event is a microcosm of race relations in our country. That is the concept that provokes sadness, anger, and fear in me. The atmosphere in so many aspects of our lives is so “us or them” that I do not know if it can be overcome. We are seeing the “us or them” attitude concerning race relations unfold in such an ugly way during this time.
It makes me feel good to see so many protests that have stayed peaceful and productive. People can be righteously angry and peaceful at the same time. These peaceful protestors have something vital to say and people ARE listening. It is especially heartening to see protests in which people from all races, ethnic backgrounds, and professions (including police and government leaders) participate. On the other hand, the fact that there is such evil in our society that caused Mr. Floyd’s killing to begin with generates a certain amount of despair. That same evil also spurs additional darkness when angry and opportunistic people commit violence in the aftermath of the murder.
Today, I listened to a discussion between my pastor, Fr. Tom Trees, and a young African American pastor from another local church, Reverend Ryan Armstrong. Reverend Armstrong shared an idea that I believe and pray is the best way forward. He said that distance breeds suspicion, but proximity breeds empathy.
I think the best thing to do is to pray that God will grant us courage and grace. I pray that He helps us to find the proximity we need to create enough empathy so that the “of course” in “of course, I love you” rings true for everyone.
What are your thoughts on this delicate issue? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.