Well that was a “wonderful” nights sleep. I can’t even blame my kids, my dogs or the full moon. All I can say is that this world we live in was heavy on my heart.
Have I told you that we’ve had to put a stop to big watching the news? We have. It consumes him. Every. Single. Story. Have I told you that beginning in high school I loved the news; I was in speech (I dreamed briefly of being a lawyer) and I genuinely found it interesting. Then, about the time I got pregnant with big, I decided it was taking a toll on me, the news. I hadn’t been able to shut my brain off at night in years, so I decided to quit watching the news. I realized that all these people. The good guys, the bad guys, the politicians, the really bad guys…they are someone’s children. Someone, somewhere loved them once, or still does. I quit reading the news. I was happier for it. Sometime over the last year, I’ve started reading more news again. I don’t know if it’s the veil of “privacy” on the Internet, but the things people say. About other human beings, y’all. I can’t even with that any more. People, some of whom I think of as decent human beings, have some of the most hate filled things to say with absolutely no regard for anyone else. If that’s decent people, you can imagine what the not so decent people say…
We are not talking about “political correctness” here. We’re talking about thinking about other people before you speak. It’s one of the first things we teach our toddlers as they begin to talk. We are not talking about political discourse here, either. I believe, honestly and truly, that political debate is needed. I believe we need people to stand up. To speak out. But do so rationally. My favorite thing I learned from Dr. Tony Attwood is the phrase, “When you are calm, you are smart.” I am talking about, however, asking people to stop and think. To practice some empathy. To UNDERSTAND that just because you don’t practice overt racism, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And understand, that when mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters say #BlackLivesMatter, they are not saying at all that your lives don’t matter too. They are saying it’s really scary, even in 2016, to be black. Not that it’s scary because they are doing something “wrong” or “dangerous.” By very virtue of skin color can make simple things scary.
Did I ever tell you about the time in college I was driving with my friend and some guys? We were in my Volvo on the way home from the movies, and we got pulled over. The officer asked me and my girlfriend to get out of the car. I was freaked out…the officer very politely asked if we were okay. I’d ridden in a car full of boys before and have since (albeit not in 20 years now). But in 2005, we happened to have three large, black boys in the car with us. Our friends. My girlfriend and I were livid. We couldn’t believe that someone could do that. After all, this wasn’t 1960s Texas. We were livid and wanted to file a complaint, write letters. Our friends said “Don’t.”. They weren’t surprised. 19 years on this earth and they weren’t surprised someone assumed that two white girls weren’t okay because they were with them. Their friends.
We live in a world where people claim to be color blind. But, is that really how we should be? Because if you cannot see the colors, you can not begin to appreciate the beauty of the differences, the richness the colors of our skin, the culture that often comes along with the pain of the past -distant and recent- and the beauty of thriving and growing and living. Of course, of course we are all human beings, but we have to celebrate one another’s differences. Not in spite of. Because of.
So, here I am. A white, suddenly middle aged, woman writing about something that makes me so very uncomfortable. Race. I seek to acknowledge my own shortcomings, own them, learn from them, grow from them. And I do have them. Shortcomings. But I promise here and now, I am not going to let the news, the hateful comments, the Internet change what I know to be true. As I was doing a guided relaxation trying to calm my upset, racing mind last night what came to me was this: God loves each and every one of us the same. All of us. Conservative. Liberal. Hate Spewers. Tree Huggers. Black. White. All the colors. He made all of us, in all of our shades, by His design.
“…help me to be good and do the things I should. Help me to love others as You love me. Amen.”
My favorite prayer at the preschool where I work.
This prayer is so simple. But isn’t that IT? Be good. Do the things you should. Love others.