Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#Ferguson

I'm calm.

I just ate breakfast, and I haven’t been dying to find the words that express my opinion in the most factual way possible, to win you over to my side.

I want to write, and I want you to read, with our preconceived notions tucked away. If you pretend that I’m a neutral analyst, I will proceed to write without assuming that you’re an extremist who I need to convince of something, and just get to the point.

Yesterday, the amount of racism on my timeline was dizzying. But we’re going to not call it racism. That’s become a term which, like its friends, feminism and homophobia, is subject to much misconception and always seems more accusatory to one group of people. Let’s call it what it is - hatred. The amount of hatred on my timeline was dizzying.
If I can paraphrase an emotion-free, expletive-free version of the two sides that made the loudest noise:

Side 1: Black lives don’t seem to matter. The police cannot be trusted. Black people need to fight back.

Side 2: Mike Brown was a thug. Good for the police, doing their job. Black people need to calm down.

And the most mysterious group of all:

Side 3: Woohoo, Thanksgiving is around the corner!

If an aficionado from side 1 and side 2 were put in a room together last night, their meeting would have begun with tense politeness, but in the end, hair would have been pulled, fists raised, and someone killed.

In spite of this, we all know that the only way forward is the healing of racial disparities, and that the healing of racial disparities can only happen when people are able to come together. And we must. We always must. Keeping our distance is not the answer. Oh it’s peaceful, and it’s safe, but the deep-seated distrust will still be there, and the hate will dissipate to allow coexistence, only to be easily roused upon the slightest provocation.
We must come together. To remain separate is to stew in your frustrations and allow more vicious and more polarized thoughts to develop. It is to make yourself less and less approachable, less and less able to communicate your points to people who see things differently, and in essence, less and less able to positively affect a situation or bring about any change. Hatred begets more hatred. Anger produces more anger. Opinion brings about more opinion.

But how do people come together in times like these?
When we’re all angry, how do we deal with one another?

The answer itself is not complicated. It’s obviously love. Not the make-believe, romantic television thing that people do. Love. Deep humility. Refusing to stop hoping, bearing, trusting, believing for better, and persevering. Self-sacrifice. It’s the doing it that presents a problem. Specifically, doing it when you’re feeling wronged, or when you’re feeling like other people are being ridiculous.

Can I suggest, that it doesn't matter who’s right or wrong? For one, we will never know. Between the media, and public personalities abusing the situation to sell news stories and tip the political scales, we will never know what actually happened. What we are faced with right now, what we have to react to, are one group of angry, hurting people, and another group of people who are offended at the accusations being thrown at them, and tired of being seen as the privileged problem. Whether or not either group has a true right to be angry is less important than addressing those feelings. The fact is that they are angry, and arguing with them about how they should feel is only going to heighten their defensiveness. No one wants to be put in a corner. It may make you feel better to tell people off, but it makes them feel worse, and widens the divide between you and them. 

What are we going to do with them?

Love them. And we cannot love them if they are unwilling to have anything to do with us. If we approach them with a view that is opposite to theirs, and come in with a bullish, I’m-going-to-show-you-what’s-wrong-with-your-thinking-you-narrow-minded-prick attitude, guess what? They will not want to have anything to do with us. Love them. It will help them, and more than you expect, it will help you.

So, side 3 people. The happy-go-lucky folks who don’t give a hoot what’s happening in the world, (OK, that was an unfair jab, and a deviation from the non-judgmental stance I assumed at the beginning, forgive me.) this will be easiest for you. You have no vested interest, and can easily love both parties.
Side 1 people. Oh, side 1 people. It’s hardest for you. It’s injustice, it’s happening all over again, this is a repeat of what has been going on, and what you will continue to face. But the one who loves the hardest, wins.
Side 2 people. You’re annoyed. You get accused of all sorts of injustices and it’s as though if you so much as open your mouth in self-defense you’re labeled, and tweeted about as an ignorant bigot. But the one who loves the hardest, wins.


Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12)