Can we stop? Just for a minute. Can we pause, breathe in deeply, breathe out slowly? Close your eyes and just stop. Can we look at these past 3-4 days and just stop? Can we take a second and stop pointing fingers at each other, at people groups, at races and stereotypes? In that pause, can we remove the words “black” and “white” from our minds, from the events, and just grieve? Can we, instead of seeing color, can we see people? Brothers, dads, husbands, boyfriends, cops, civilians…lives lost. Can we just see that for a moment?
Can we stop this cycle of pointing fingers at different groups of people, can we stop it long enough to see what it’s doing to us? If we keep spinning around in the cycle, we’ll never be able to stop long enough to correct it. Please understand me, I’m not saying that racism is not a problem, what I’m saying is that we have to find another way of dealing with it.
In the past 3 days I have seen so many different opinions floating around on social media, it’s the norm for a while after events like what we’ve seen in the past 72 hours…but then it dies down…until the next event. But there aren’t any real solutions or progress being made. People are blaming black people. People are blaming white people. People are blaming guns. People are blaming cops. People are blaming the media. But can we just stop?
I have seen people talk about racism. That it’s a “white people” problem, that it’s a “black people” problem. Racism was not started by any one person of any one skin color. If you look at a black person and assume they’re ignorant, a thug, or dangerous just because of their skin color or style of dress, it’s racism. If you look at a white person and assume they’re a racist descendant of a slave owner or assume they got to where they are because of “privilege”, it’s racism. Either way, it makes both “sides” angry and continues to spin the cycle. If you look throughout History, racism has been practiced by every race and people group in one form or another. Racism is a human problem. Prejudice is a human problem…because really, as much as we call out racism, it is just one form of prejudice we hold against each other because we judge each other by what we see, especially when we don’t know the person. Everyone does it, you can’t deny it. Whether it’s skin color, style and condition of dress, job, car, whatever…we all judge each other by what we first see. It is a human condition. Part of it is how we evaluate a person and part of it is how we try to protect ourselves. It’s one thing to judge someone by what you see, it is another to automatically dislike, mistreat, or disrespect them because of it.
But at some point we have to stop this mess. I am so sick and tired of looking at the news and hearing about people killing each other…no matter what race, no matter where, I am just tired of it. If we keep pointing the blame at each other, all we do is assume and increase tension. I’m not saying don’t recognize and talk about the problem. It has to be dealt with…but it will not happen overnight. It will not happen when leaders from different groups sit down and talk to each other and announce that everything is all good. It will not happen if we take guns off the streets. It will happen at home. It will happen when individuals stop blaming each other and start holding themselves and each other accountable. It will happen when we teach our children…all of them, black, white, purple, yellow, green, red, and navy, to stop seeing color but start seeing individuals with a blank slate. When we teach ourselves and our children to see the attitude and the heart instead of the skin color. I have seen so many people asking…”Hey, why are people being silent on this?” I have seen some get angry because others don’t automatically stand up…but sometimes it is better to step back, absorb all the information, evaluate, and then take a stand. It is better to pause to choose words wisely than to jump in and make a mistake.
Please also be aware, I am not saying we should remove guns from all people, including cops. I am not saying that every situation where a cop shoots and kills someone, whether black or white, is right or wrong. I am saying we cannot judge any one person, field of workers, race, culture, or whatever by the actions of a few. Cops are enforcers of the law which means they often have to deal with people breaking the law…which automatically puts their lives at risk…which means they have to be cautious. I’m not saying every cop should just walk right up to a person and say “howdy doody”…they should be wise and cautious, and they should do their best to carefully evaluate each situation they step into for the sake of their lives and the lives of those around them. They should be held accountable in situations where they have committed an injustice or broken the law…but we must also try to find peace when the answers we expect or seek are not what is given.
And that’s what each of us as individuals must do- evaluate each person and situation we step into. If I meet a stranger, no matter the skin color, I should be cautious for my safety, but still be respectful and open. But please, just stop hating each other because of History. Stop blaming each other for what people did decades and centuries ago. Learn from their mistakes so we never do it again. Stop blaming an individual because of their race just because of an encounter you had with someone else of the same race.
As a people, as human beings, we must be willing to forgive and leave behind the past. We must forgive when we are treated badly by a white person or a black person. In every situation with every person, we must allow there to be a blank slate instead of bringing prejudice, anger, hatred, racism, and the burdens and garbage of past experiences into every situation with us. If we continue to carry those things with us, if we continue to not forgive, we will ruin all chances of new relationships, new friends, and new starts.
And who knows, I might be wrong, but I at least want to try. I want to check my own heart and mind and correct myself. This process won’t be overnight and it won’t be quick or painless, but it’s a start and we have to try. But we all must start at home- first in our own individual hearts and minds, in our homes, in our families, in our workplaces, and our societies.
We all must stop, breathe, grieve, forgive, learn, change, and move forward.