Early in the day that 12 police officers were shot in Dallas, my son and I had a surreal conversation.
Him: Mom, did you see the video on Facebook? I can’t believe they would show that where little kids might see it. The police shot that guy.
Me: The guy that died on the parking lot or the guy that died in the car?
Him: The guy in Baton Rouge.
How bizarre that we had to clarify – which video showing which shooting?
My Facebook feed is awash with people ranting. “Black Lives Matter!” “All Lives Matter!” They type, they hate and they fume. What they don’t do is truly dialogue.
My co-author, Duchess Harris, and I do this on a regular basis. We ask each other questions, we listen to how the other person feels about changing events, and we discuss the past. What was the reality that we each knew growing up?
Have you ever had this kind of conversation about race? Very few of us have.
One Saturday, I happened to be at a rummage sale where a woman learned that a family friend had been shot the night before by police. We spent a long time talking about what it’s like to be black in the US. As I helped her to her car, she said, “No white woman has ever talked with me about race.”
And that, my friends, needs to change, but changing it won’t be easy.
First, we need to listen because a dialogue cannot take place until the person whose voice is most often heard is quiet and listens. I’m sorry, I know this is going to upset some people but if you get freaked out by “Black Lives Matter,” you need to listen. Even if you don’t get freaked out, you still need to listen. It’s a good habit.
The people who protest carrying Black Lives Matter signs don’t feel like they are heard. We can only change that by listening. And how do we show that we are listening? One way to do this is to ask questions. “Black Lives Matter” begs the question “What does it mean to matter?” You might not like the answer, but that’s okay. Being made to feel like you don’t matter really isn’t particularly pleasant. Listening is step one in making them feel like they do matter.
What does this have to do with prayer and being a Christian? Christ said it in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the peacemakers. As peacemakers, we need to go out and look and listen. We need to find those who are not being heard.
Once we find them, we need to listen. And as we listen, we need to lift them up into His Light.