I’ve been silent, maybe silent for too long. It is easier that way, at least it is easier for me, who is not close to the source of so much pain and aguish. As a religious leader I should know better, I should know that if I don’t speak then who will? If I do not lament and call God’s people to do the same then, who will?
Then I’ve thought of the times when I have felt in danger because of the color of my skin or my “funny” last name. The times when I’ve wondered if our “mixed children,” would find hospitality or would be rejected. The times when jokes were shared and glances exchanged that clearly indicated that I was not welcomed.
Now that I am often in a privileged position it is easier to stay quiet. I know that I should not, for me, for my kids, and for communities of color everywhere.
I watch in pain and a sense of hopelessness. I know that violence begets violence, but have I raised my voice as one who is convicted? No. Maybe because as I close in on a decade of pastoral ministry I am tired of seeing little change, in fact it seems that more than ever we are addicted to violence as a recourse.
I watch in pain and a sense of hopelessness. My stomach turns as we see another reminder of the deep seeded racism that plagues our society. In spite of all the so called advances people of color are still being targeted, labeled, profiled, and hunted.
I watch in pain and a sense of hopelessness. I read my Facebook feed and see news of a video with “proof.” Maybe I am not smart enough to figure out the connection. I thought that we were all innocent before proven guilty but when you are brown you should know better. Truth be told we are always guilty and we often do not have enough money to prove we are innocent. And if the latest struggles continues innocence or guilt will not matter because we are fighting for our lives!
I watch in pain and a sense of hopelessness. Quickly I recognize that a prayer comes to my lips:
“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from those who work evil;
from the bloodthirsty save me.” Psalm 59: 1-2 (NRSV)
I pray for deliverance from the forces of wickedness that seek destruction. I pray that the cycle of violence finds an end, that justice will push its way through the brick walls of hatred and apathy. I pray that all of us examine our hearts, repent, and become agents of resurrection.
At times like this I am thankful for the saints, especially Archbishop Romero. There I find much hope, comfort, and call to action. In one of his sermons he reminds us that “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”
May God’s people become the eyes to our communities. Eyes of justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, and a call for repentance. Eyes that give sight to our collective grief and to the realities of privilege. Eyes that cry alongside those that for generations have been victims of dehumanization. Eyes that cast a vision of the New Jerusalem, where Christ promises to
“wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (NRSV)
Till then we must bear the pain and rehearse hope. Till then we’ll stand alongside and give sight. Till then we’ll call for justice and for peace! Maranatha!
This post first appeared on August 18, 2014 in Day1.org Key Voices Blog