I woke up this morning, Thursday, July 7, 2016 at a loss for words. I’m a writer and a public thinker. I contribute to public discourse by providing commentary on events and happenings. I tend to do this using a theological lens and I rely heavily on my Christian faith to make sense of and peace with things as they unfold. Many times this takes place on my Facebook page, but I also write longer pieces and publish blogs on Embracing My Shadow and The Salt Collective. Today, however, I had no words…
Not having words scares me because this is the gift I have to offer to the world. Not having words is akin to not breathing for me. I process, lament, grieve, discover and reflect through the written word. This morning, I couldn’t get out of bed and my throat closed up. No words could break free as my mind grappled with the reality that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were both dead after encounters with the police. The fact that Alton was murdered a day after Independence Day and Philando was murdered 48 hours later was too much to bear.
I later realized that maybe the time for words is over. I have written about Sandra Bland and Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the massacre at Mother Emmanuel . I have led sessions on race and justice. I have preached about loving one’s neighbor and the way that we are called to be in relationship as people of faith. I have prayed – silently, aloud, alone and with others – for an end to the violence, for an end to the collective conscience that renders black lives unworthy and is reinforced by systemic oppression and racism that leads to the physical, emotional and mental death of black people. I have waxed poetic about about the need to practice our faith by being people of justice and mercy, of humility and love.
But I’m realizing that words can only go so far. Words only have as much power as the hearer wants them to have and they mean nothing if people aren’t willing to move from hearing to understanding. When you understand something, you change your behavior. This new knowledge is put into action and then a cycle of learning, being and reflecting comes alive. This leads to wisdom. Without a commitment to action and reflection, words increase knowledge but they don’t necessarily lead to wisdom.
So my questions for you dear Shadow Lovers are as follows
How does the knowledge that black lives actually don’t matter impact you?
How will you speak and show up and serve in ways that combat this reality?
How will you create space for people to lament?
What will you do to support your sisters and brothers of a darker hue as we watch our people be executed?
Will you just listen to these words? Or will you seek to understand them?