*Sometimes I write things and then realize I hit publish a little prematurely. If you are wondering why the same post is ending up in your inbox again today – this one is a little different. After reflecting, I realized I didn’t quite say things like I had wanted to. Every once in awhile we need a do-over. This is my do-over.
Oh my heart.
It feels like whenever I turn on the television, open my Yahoo account, log in to Facebook or read a headline somewhere – it’s almost too much.
The words I read, the images I see – they break my heart.
Our country seems a little more divided and a little more angry than I remember in my lifetime.
There is political discord, racial tension, terrorism and nuclear threats – to name a few.
And to top it off, the recent natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, has wreaked havoc on the lives of many – leaving over 30,000 people without their homes, their communities, their towns – now living in shelters. As the waters recede and they head back to their homes to assess the damage, they are left to wonder what will happen next.
What do you do with so much wreckage?
The new statistics that come in daily are mind boggling.
The images are gut wrenching.
The stories are hard to hear and the images are painful to see, but I am watching from a place of comfort – not out my window. I see the images flash by on my television, my computer screen, my device. What about the people who are there? What about the people who watched, unable to help, as people were swept away by the water?
What about the people whose lives have been turned upside down in an instant?
And it’s not just the hurricane victims my heart breaks for.
What about the people who were at the Charlottesville rally? What about the people who stood there watching as the car drove into the crowds?
What about the people who were injured? What about the woman who lost her life?
Sometimes it’s just too much to take in.
I wonder how to process it all? What to make of it? What to do about it?
My life may have not been directly impacted by these recent events in our country, but they have still left a mark. My heart feels topsy-turvy and upside-downy and like I want to do something.
And so I am going to do something. Because I can.
Don’t think for one second that how we respond to these events we see on the television, or read about on our newsfeeds doesn’t matter. Don’t think that because you are just one person you can’t make a difference in this broken world. Don’t think that you aren’t able to make a dent, make a change, make an impact. Because you are.
How we respond to these things does matter.
I am learning sometimes the best response is silence. Sometimes the best response is for me to say nothing at all. Especially on Facebook.
Shortly after the election, I posted an article that highlighted some of my thoughts on what had transpired. Within moments, I had responses from people. Some in favor of the post. Others in opposition. I quickly hit the delete button.
Getting into a political debate on Facebook would only create lines of division. I knew that as strongly as I felt about my opinion, there were others that felt as strongly about their own.
Posting an article wasn’t going to change those opinions.
I realized in that moment, as I deleted the post, I didn’t want to get involved with these discussions on Facebook. For myself personally, there would be no benefit.
Only frustration. Only more division. More discord. None of which I want in my life.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t engaged in political debates with people. That isn’t to say that I don’t think people should speak up for what they believe – because I do. I have just decided Facebook, or any other form of social media, is not a great platform for me to share my political views.
And sometimes the best response is for me to listen. To try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. To try to see things from their perspective.
The racism that has been rearing it’s ugly head lately is like a bad breakout. You may not know how dirty your face really is, until all of the pimples appear. Then you know you have an issue that needs dealt with – pronto. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before – you just couldn’t see it.
All of this racial ugliness has opened my eyes to the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person I don’t want to be. It has made me realize how ignorant I have been to the sufferings and oppressions of minorities in our country.
This has been going on for a long, long, long time. Unfortunately, I was just blind to it.
The recent events in our country have made me want to listen. To learn. To open my ears and my eyes. It has made me want to build more diverse relationships. People tend to be drawn to people who are just like them. It’s what we do. I don’t want to be that way anymore.
As a white woman in our country, I honestly don’t know what the best response is to all of this, but I do know that I want to start having more conversations. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to be a part of the solution in some way.
As part of the majority, if I want to help enact change, then I have a responsibility to listen, to learn and then respond.
And I do believe that while sometimes the best response for me is silence, there are other times when the best response is for me to speak out against the injustice I see in the world.
And when I choose to not be silent, when I choose to speak for justice – I must be sure I am speaking from a place of love. I am learning if I choose to respond to hate with more hate then I am no better than the people I am speaking out against.
There is such a thing as righteous anger. When there is injustice in the world, it is likely to make your blood boil. As it should.
When I saw the images and videos of the white nationalists marching in Charlottesville it stirred up anger and sadness and frustration and the reality of how incredibly ignorant I was to the racism that exists in our country.
A fire had been ignited. And when I heard people defending the actions of the white nationalists in any way – that fire burned bright.
I was angry.
But even in if the anger is righteous, even in the face of injustice, we are not called to respond with hate. We are called to respond with love. We are called to love our enemies.
It is easy to pray for the families of victims. It is easy to pray for the people who are suffering from injustice. It is easy to pray for those who are being marginalized and mistreated. It is much harder to pray for the person who caused the pain.
What about praying for the person who drove the car into the crowd?
What about praying for the other people who were there marching?
It is counter to our natural response – it definitely wasn’t my first response. Or second. Or third even. But over time, as I have thought about this I have realized that if we are called to love our enemies, these are the people we are called to love and called to pray for.
I can make a difference in this world by choosing to respond to even the most atrocious acts in love.
I believe we are capable each and every day of making small choices that will leave large, lasting impacts.
When we hear about the division in our country, we can pray. When we hear about injustice, we can pray. When we hear about terrorist attacks and international discord, we can pray.
When we hear about the devastation happening in Texas and surrounding areas, we can pray.
We should pray.
We can also make monetary donations. We can find out the greatest needs and send those items. And for some, you may be called to pack up your belongings and travel there to physically help in some capacity.
Whether you donate $5 or book a flight. Every little bit helps. Don’t think for one second it doesn’t.
We can all make a difference in this broken world. Our words, our actions, our response to the small things and the big things that happen in life – they matter.
The more that we choose to respond in love, the more we choose to love our neighbor as our self, the more we choose to listen and empathize, the more we choose to pray for our enemies instead of lashing out in hate – the more we will impact this world for the better.
We don’t have to be paralyzed by the headlines. We don’t have to be afraid of what we see. We can make a difference, even in the face of great disaster.
The remarkable thing is that if everyone does a little something, it becomes a whole lot of something. And that is when change happens. As we can see from the outpouring of love in our country toward the victims of Hurricane Harvey – our response matters and when we act in love, together, we can make a difference.