We can begin to see anew. Our love-lacking actions and words do not define us, but they do inform us. We can integrate the perspective of those we hurt into our own eyes and thereby work toward redemption and justice. We can believe that we are loved and work toward loving those around us. It’s a journey of more than a few steps and no one we can make it alone, but it is possible and even joyful.
I may have lost some optimism in 2016 but I have not lost hope. I refuse to lose hope, but hope demands action.
I think 2016 has been an election of exposure. We don’t know ourselves nearly as well as we think we do.
During these moments of public engagement like an election year, our focus tends to rest on what slabs we plan to lay. It’s true that the clear, noticeable work which we execute has repercussions. That concrete slab laid one day years ago remains present. But over time, those trees with access to light and water will shape the ground beneath our feet. And those trees we cut off or cut down will not.
I don’t want to face reality, and this minute long interaction confronted me with it. I want to believe that everyone has the same access that I do. I want to believe that I am where I am because I’ve made good decisions and worked hard and demonstrated my trustworthiness.
What if instead of offering our favorite canned solution, we admitted that we are part of the problem? What if instead of rushing to blame others – even if there is blame to go around – we took a hard look at our own often indirect contribution and complicity?
I want to live as if simple, mustard-seed-sized acts of loving God by loving others can change the whole system. I want to look into the face of those around me and see the image of God in them especially the ones I have a hard time loving or the ones the world views as insignificant or unworthy of attention.
I am sorry for my own prejudice. And I’m sorry for dismissing racism as history ignoring that the past bleeds into the present.
I have often said that throughout my life I want to say honestly that those who are closest to me would feel the most loved. In other words, I want to be like Arthur Schultz.
So for those of you who feel this far more personally than I do, who have witnessed the system working against themselves and their communities, I’m sorry that I was too afraid to stand with you even in this very small way. That was cowardly.