My heart is heavy for everything going on in the world right now. From Iraq to Ferguson, it seems like the world is going mad.
I hope that my continual banter about back to school fashion and my latest handbag obsession doesn’t insinuate that I don’t care or that I’m not watching. I generally don’t feel this is the platform for discussing contentious issues, but it is where I share my heart, and right now my heart is heavy.
I’ve read a lot of opinion pieces, trying to get a well-rounded perspective on what is happening in various parts of the world. Many are well thought out and compelling, and I find myself swinging back and forth on the pendulum, trying to figure out where I fit in.
I’m not writing this to make judgements or because I think I offer anything new and earth shattering to the conversation. I’m writing this morning to share how the news effects me, a white American woman of privilege who lives far away from Iraq and Ferguson — but realizes that there is nowhere that is truly safe.
Racial tensions could explode tomorrow in Philly or even closer in my neighboring Pottstown. There could be another terrorist attack on U.S. soil any time, anywhere. I’m preparing to take three flights this fall, two that are out of the country, and one that is across our country. Anything could happen. I’m not immune.
And it stresses me out. I have my Ativan script ready to fill because I don’t dare travel without it. But also, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able. He is enough. No matter what happens today or tomorrow or next year, my hope and trust is in Him and I will rely on Him to deal with whatever comes my way.
But that low-level anxiety that I experience at times like these is nothing like the anxiety many Americans live with every day just because they happened to be born with brown skin. Yes, unfortunately racism and privilege are alive and well in the good ole U.S. of A. There are some who want to deny this. Maybe that’s because they haven’t experienced it first-hand, or perhaps because they don’t feel racist. Which, kudos, but denying the problem or saying that it’s not our problem because we don’t see it or experience it only widens the divide.
I see my friends sharing their fears of raising brown boys in this country right now, and I feel their pain. I’m thankful they are willing to share their experiences and thoughts and fears so that I can get a glimpse of what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, even if it’s uncomfortable. I don’t always reply or comment because I’m not sure what the appropriate response is, and I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing and widening the divide, but I’m listening and trying to understand because I think the world needs a little more listening and understanding.
I also know police offers . . . good men, and I want to know what happened to make this officer in Ferguson feel like the situation warranted his actions. It appears now that his actions were totally unjustified, but I also realize that there are legitimate circumstances that could cause him to feel the need to shoot an unarmed man.
Am I even allowed to say that? Am I allowed to suggest that there might be a reasonable explanation? Or does that automatically paint me as a racist?
And if it does come to light that he was in the wrong, what in this white cop’s background and experience that made him so fearful of an unarmed black boy walking down the middle of the street that he felt justified in his actions? Not to defend him . . . but to understand. Because we all know the situation is so much bigger than this one incident.
The racial divide seems huge right now. Sometimes we think we’ve come so far and then events like this happen and we realize we really haven’t come that far at all. And of course, some knew that already because they live with it every day.
I don’t think the news media helps the situation either. I feel like the media often incites discontent and animosity. They only tell half the story, and we fall into their trap every time, jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts or allowing for the possibility that there may be more going on than we know. We allow ourselves to get defensive because we feel maligned and misunderstood, and we don’t take the time to listen to each other and try to bridge the gap.
Perhaps more listening and understanding would go a long way towards closing the racial divide. It doesn’t feel like there’s much else I can do from where I sit. I feel pretty helpless, actually. The issues are large and complicated and perhaps racism will never leave us completely — it is a sinful world, after all. I don’t think for a second that we are ever going to live in a utopia — at least not on this side of heaven. But that doesn’t mean that I have to condone ignorance or ugliness. Or ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist because it makes me uncomfortable or because I don’t have to worry about my son being shot by a police officer when he’s minding his own business… or, for that matter, even being a belligerent (unarmed) kid.
I will be honest and tell you that I really don’t know how to wrap this up. Because I will hit publish, grab another cup of coffee, and go on about my day. I might go for a bike ride this morning, and later on I will whip up homemade salsa with my organic veggies from the CSA. I will probably photograph my outfit and generally go about my privileged life. I will share the latest sales on Facebook and post cute pictures of my dog on Instagram, and when I sit down to take a “break” I will peruse Facebook and read more articles by well meaning people trying to make sense of this messed up world. And I will do it all from my safe little suburban neighborhood because that’s the life I was born into.
I’m not apologizing for that, but I do promise that I will not stop listening and trying to understand. And I will do my best to teach my kids to listen and hear other perspectives. And while we may never have unity and peace this side of heaven, there is the promise of that day. For now I take comfort in that.