The recent shooting in Charleston South Carolina has once again, polarized a nation. I have allowed myself to view it through eyes that brought pain to my heart and to my thinking. Folks died. A young man shot them. I sit here and hurt for the loss and grieve for the families. I find myself frustrated over the media cacophony, the sharp words and the painful foolishness.
Polarization. Divide. A breaking apart. People are pulled back to their left or right sides. Black or white. Southern or Northern. Guns or no guns. Young or old.
It is not about where they were shot. (A church.) But who they were. People.
At nearly 60 years old I am dismayed at the loss of life, the inability of so many to heal or the desire to work towards peace. Folks, these are people! All of them!
My first friend to die was hit by a car while walking home. A fatherless individual, the victim of abuse, the subject of ridicule. I sat at our kitchen table and read his name and the cause of death over and over. How different our approach is today. We seem to “expect” it. Why? have we become so complacent in our lives, jaded in our thinking we miss the good?
In the 1970s these words were sung by Three Dog Night.
How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard, easy to be cold
Let me give you a little of my history before I go on. My first introduction to folks who were black or from the south was through my mom. My mom, as a child had been sent away to a Louisiana sugar plantation following the stock market crash in 1929. One of the women who served in the mansion was a large black women named Lanny. My mom loved her. But she was unable to understand why she could not sit at the table to eat with them. Years later upon graduation from Yale with a Masters in English, she met up with Julian Bond. A civil rights advocate. My mom struggled with the social injustice. (She became a teacher.) When the first black family moved into our rural farming community, she drove up to meet with them and invite them to church. Her way of thinking helped shape my thinking. My years in the church brought me in contact with many folks of color and I loved them all. (Often they stayed in my home.) My most recent experience was through my daughter and the young, black Haitian man she married, the father of my youngest grandchild.
For my mom to introduce equality amongst the races, might even have been frowned on or disdained. Why? My mom was a Lee. As in the southern Lee’s. To seek “justice for all” was so much of her life’s mission. Her gravestone simply said, “God is Love”.
Some might argue that even bringing up color on any level is racist or bigoted.I would disagree. (And I assure you that those who know me, would agree that I love all.) My son in law is black and I would say he is proud of his heritage. Should I be any less proud of mine? I was uniquely created by the Father who said He knew me in my mother’s womb. Who knew me before the foundations of the earth. Created by the One who loved me as He loves all. In His image as all men and women are. To me to ignore one’s differences or uniqueness is simply one more attempt to commonize man rather than hold him as the vessel of uniqueness God loves and made him to be.
To be blind to diversity is such a failing in our society, in our culture at large. Perhaps the greatest show of arrogance is to blind our selves to the truth. Each one of us is different. And God is okay with it!
And so, a city is once again catapulted to the front pages of the “news” to become the fulcrum for one’s latest likes or dislikes. Can we not just look around and say “enough is enough”? That like Popeye, we “have had all that we can and we canst take it no more”.
So, why enter the fray? Because the world needs peacemakers and not peacekeepers. Men and women who will not back down from the awkwardness of the hour, but embrace the need to come to resolution, seek restoration and establish a peace that passes all understanding.
This is not a time to choose sides. It is high time that we unravel the momentum of darkness and cause it to stop. Many years ago when I traveled throughout the South I quickly came to the conclusion that Sunday mornings were the most segregated of all times. How can this be? In the church?
I speak this loudly and with all humility, that the church must stop its childish game of playing “he said, she said” and unite on the greatest commandment of all, to love. Let us stop waiting for a minister, a candidate or an elected official and let us begin to move forward in love, as the equipped of the Lord. To establish peace wherever we go. To release healing upon who we meet. To function as God created.
Charleston, I tell you your best days are coming. Not because of a shooting or a place in the headlines, but because God LOVES you! The spirit of redemption is swirling about and the Spirit of God heavy with promises of good.
But why stop there? Why not in your family, your community or your state? Can this not be the day to lay down your wielded weapons of division and destruction? To stop admiring the darkness and turn on the lights? For Jesus served with man with a cloth wrapped about His waist, reserving the sword for the battles of heaven.
My friends, it matters to me not, your color or gender. What I admire most is your willingness to bring destruction to the ways of the demonic. To move in an opposite spirit. Where there is darkness, bring light. Where hatred prevails, release love. Where injustice abounds, bring the goodness of mercy.
This is not time for a “momma bear” spirit or sanctimonious attitudes. (Have you not heard? Vengeance is the Lord’s. Not yours!) Or the wielding of heavy words and condemnation. Our words of divisiveness must wane in the light of the love of the Lord and His call to unity.
Am I dreamer? Absolutely! I believe the people of God can be empowered by grace and change. To become more like God! To carry His nature, His values and His honor.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.