I just read on Facebook that a friend of mine from college witnessed two police officers being shot in Ferguson. She and her friend escaped safely, but they were very afraid the shooters were going to open fire on the crowd.
I struggled with what to say. What comfort can I possibly give? I have never known racism. I have never felt marginalized to that degree. It’s hard to know how to respond. You want to say things like, “it’s not worth protesting”, or “good grief go home!”…but maybe it is to her. Maybe it’s that important. I don’t know.
All I know is, I kept thinking of a quote I have saved on a scrap of paper by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to tell my friend just to love and not hate, but I do believe love is the answer. And I know firsthand through my own life experiences that “hate is too great of a burden to bear”. (more Dr. King) Hate destroys the hater, no matter what race or religion they are.
Today it feels like things in the world are getting worse and not better, and I feel helpless. Young men in Oklahoma are chanting racial slurs on a bus as a badge of unity and police officers are being shot. These are radical examples, but what is worse is we are getting used to it. It is hard to muster more than a sigh. Justice is a nice idea and yet…we are passive, ambivalent.
I am a simple person. I know these are big issues. Too big for me. I don’t know what to do. This morning I did what I knew. I sat in my office and asked God to help us all. And I admitted he needed to start with me. I asked Him to open my eyes to the hurt around me and help me discover how I might bring love into those circumstances. I am willing.
And I’m going to talk to my kids again about these things. I’m going to remind them what Jesus taught about justice and kindness and love. They are both amazing people. They both have experienced enough pain to know it doesn’t respect race or religion. They are compassionate, wise and kind. I have been given grace as a mother, I know. I clung to the scripture “Love covers a multitude of sins” when they were young and I knew I was getting it wrong a lot of the time. Today, I am truly grateful I don’t have to worry about them being caught on camera singing hate songs. I don’t have the least bit of worry about that. They make me so proud every day.
I won’t presume to know what the answer is for anyone else, but I feel confident in saying this: Mothers, teach your children to love. They are watching you. Hate is too great a burden for them to bear. Love drives out darkness. Teach them to be light. Love and accept them so they will do the same for others. It is the only job you will ever have that really matters.