I have officially eaten all the things, both at my own house (deviled eggs, tofurkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, crescent rolls) and at a friend's house (cheesy potatoes, cheesy green bean casserole, veggie stuffing, cheesecake brûlée). I have also played games, petted both cats and dogs, laughed uproariously, and had serious conversations about politics, race, the meaning of justice, scripture, and the history of cuckoo clocks.
I have struggled with what to say about the justice situation in this country. I am distressed by how easily we dismiss the suffering of others. I am angry about how little we value life in all its fullness. I am saddened by the divide that seems more cavernous than ever. Part of me hesitates to write what I think, because I recognize that I have the privilege of not engaging. And another part of me wants desperately to cry out alongside my fellow human beings, insisting that our voices be heard. I am not certain of the best way to say what, honestly, so many people are saying without anyone paying attention. I am not certain of how to use my privilege in this conversation and movement.
But here is what I know:
We are created in the image of God. Not just some of us, all of us. To throw even one life away is a tragedy. To put that dead life on trial without the benefit of openness, defense, cross-examination, or discussion of what evidence might mean is a perversion of humanity, as well as a gross misuse of our American justice system. To stereotype everyone in a profession, or a neighborhood, or a skin color because of one person is short-sighted and ridiculous.
Every act of violence hurts more than just the person who is injured or killed. Not only is life lost, but the soul of the perpetrator is also damaged. A family is torn apart. A community grieves.
Every Michael Brown, every Darren Wilson--one lost his life, the other his humanity. And we who look on with indifference: we lose our humanity too.
How long will we put up with this? How long will we stand by as people are killed for the slightest things? (no matter what you think of Michael Brown, tell me how you justify the 12 year old boy with a toy gun being shot on sight. tell me how you justify the kid on the playground. tell me how you justify the kid in the stairs of his apartment building. tell me how you justify the guy being choked to death on the street. and the hundreds of others happening every day.)
How long will we allow death to take hold, both physically and spiritually? How long will we avert our eyes from grieving mothers, traumatized siblings, friends and classmates who see no other way out than to fight back?
We who have the privilege of ignoring the situation have created the situation. When will we be part of the solution rather than perpetuating the problem? When will we stop insisting that life is a zero sum game, and instead learn that we're in it together--and that when one part of the body suffers, all suffer together with it?
Today, as I am stuffed with potatoes, I am also hungry--with those who are starving and with those who hunger for justice. Today, as I snuggle into my warm bed, I am also cold and alone--with those who are on the streets, forgotten and overlooked. Today, as I laugh with friends, I am also grieving--with those who see no light shining in the darkness. I hope you are too.