I was all pumped about blogging about creativity this week. That somehow human beings have this amazing way of thinking differently about the same thing and when we all put our thoughts together, we often come up with ideas that can, often quite literally, change the world. Someone thought of studies showing the differences between left-brain and right-brain dominance and that some people are more naturally poets and musicians and painters and sculptors and others are more naturally scientists and mathematicians and actuaries and neurosurgeons. And the wonderfully miraculous paradoxically marvelously wonderful thing is that poets and musicians and painters and sculptors need math and science and actuaries and neurosurgeons to be most effective at what they do, and mathematicians and scientists and actuaries and neurosurgeons need poets and musicians and painters and sculptors to be most effective at what they do! How genius is God, I mean really?!? All these different gifts and brain abilities and ways of living out what we have to give to the world and that we need each other and all these gifts for our lives to be as amazing as they are. I know, right? Wow.
That’s what was coursing through my spirit. And then there was a guy whose van stalled on a highway on his way home from a community college in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And then police officers. And then his hands were up. And then a Taser which brought him to the ground. Was he reaching through the window for a weapon? The window was up, no weapon was found. Was he on drugs? Perhaps. Was he acting aggressively? The video doesn’t show that he was, the video shows him with his hands up walking away from the officers. Should he have stopped if they asked him too? Absolutely. Since he didn’t and he kept walking away and then put his hands toward his vehicle, should he have been shot dead? Somehow the decision was to shoot him dead. And then not one of the four living people who were there as participants and witnesses went to attend to him for upwards of 2 minutes and 42 seconds. At about a minute and 50 seconds, one of them went and checked his pockets. He wasn’t moving, had no weapon, was incapacitated and bleeding and not one of the human beings standing less than 25 feet from him went to attend to him. He wasn’t attended to until the paramedic arrived. No one tried to stop the bleeding, to see if CPR might help. So much about this we don’t know. I certainly don’t put my life on the line every day for public safety and I believe 99% or more of those who do, do so with integrity and concern for people regardless of color. We have these honorable and self-sacrificing public servants in our congregation and I am humbled by their service.
And the facts are that black men, all too often unarmed, continue to be shot dead. So do we not say anything about that because the officers we know are faithful people of high integrity? Or are we called to look in the mirror, yes, at ourselves, and decide where it is we who are lighter colored of skin are privileged simply because we were born with different amounts of melanin causing a lighter shade of covering over our bones and muscles and nerves and organs and tendons and ligaments? All things we all have inside regardless of our covering on the outside.
Today I feel broken, heart and soul, broken. “I’m not one of ‘them’” I can say to myself. Not one of those white people who judge people differently or as inferior because of the color of ‘their’ skin.
I’m also not someone who worries about walking my dog down a path while wearing my K-State hoodie.
I’m also not someone who worries about being stopped for speeding or running a red light or running out of gas.
I’m also not someone who worries about being judged as a “bad dude” because of how I look.
I’m also not someone who ever had a family member lynched, or whipped, or owned or sold as property.
We do have to stop this, you know. This hatred of each other born out of fear. It’s not faithful. It’s not redeeming. It’s actually simply not human, at least not in the image of God as we are created to be.
So maybe this whole deal is about being creative. In fact, maybe that’s the only shot we have. To bring our left brains and our right brains and our hearts and our souls and our spirits and our weaknesses and our strengths and our temptations and our brokenness and our healing and our willingness to confess and fess up and forgive and to change what needs changing and to do that in ourselves first. If I don’t want to live afraid because I know when I do, I’m not at my best and I’m not living the life God wants for me, how can I not work for others not to have to live afraid as well? Please let’s get creative together. Please, let’s those of us who are a lighter shade of melanin in our skin, let’s be unafraid to stand as allies and advocates and active workers in the fight against racial injustice in ourselves, our churches, and every part of our everyday lives. Ghandi was right I think, we must be the change we want to see.