Today, my heart is breaking, and that deserves to be addressed because there are others out there whose lives have been turned upside down in the wake of events this past week.
Right now, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s families are grieving their deaths. Deaths that seem so senseless and unnecessary. They are trying to figure out how to rework their lives into a new normal without these men. And now, we’ve added 5 more families who are dealing with the same grief, the same struggle to find a new normal without someone they love.
America is hurting. She is angry, and she is wounded.
Here is the problem, this is how we lose our humanity: we forget that people are individuals. In our fear and ignorance we assume that every time we look at someone they are nothing more than the group we associate them with. I am guilty of this. Everyone is guilty of this.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139: 13-14
God created each person individually. He took time to knit each person together. Each individual is fearfully and wonderfully made. Frankly, you don’t even have to believe in God to understand the idea that each person is an original. When we forget that, we begin to lose a little of what makes us human. When we stop recognizing people as individuals with their own thoughts and feelings, we let fear take over. Fear is dangerous. Fear allows us to justify truly heinous actions. Fear allows us to forget that and individual is human, because if we can associate that individual with a group we don’t like, then we can treat them as a danger and a threat instead of as a person.
Not all black people are thugs.
Not all police officers are racist.
Not all Muslims are terrorists.
Not all Christians are bigots.
Each of those groups is comprised of individuals. And individuals are very different. Individuals are unique. An individual can think for himself or herself. In fact, the idea we have in our heads of each of those groups only really constitutes a small percentage of that group.
We need to stop retaliating. That solves nothing. The sniper in Dallas didn’t accomplish anything. He is nothing more than a coward, just like the police officer who shot a man for the simple crime of reaching for his ID. The truth is, I can agree that black lives matter AND I can support the police. I can agree that there needs to be repercussions for officers who act out of ignorance and fear, while also acknowledging that those individuals do not represent the entire group.
When we think of people as individuals, then it becomes very difficult to fear or hate them. When we force ourselves to think about a person’s feelings, their family, the hobbies they love, the things they believe, then we realize that they are human. Racism and stereotyping are just different ways to describe fear. Fear blinds us from seeing an individual and encourages us to ignore our humanity.
Only love can heal America. Love is the salve that soothes the wounds we inflict upon ourselves. Love is the opposite of fear because, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
The fact is, EVERYONE matters. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we enter the path to healing.