Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thoughts on Life and Ferguson

 We used to have a dog named Iko.  We got him at the pound.  He was the most loving and gentle dog we’ve ever had.  Mackenzie would dress him up in hats and scarves.  He would look at us with big sad eyes as if to plead, “help me!”, but he would sit calmly and let her play.  He would wake me each morning by standing beside our bed and laying his head on my pillow, just staring at my face until my eyes opened.  We never saw him growl or snarl or attempt to bite anyone or anything.  Not even when we got a cat and it scratched him in the nose.  Or when we got a second cat and it did the same.   The most he would do was to take his nose and scoot them away from his space. 
One day, I noticed Iko acting strangely.  He was shaking his head and scratching at his ear.  Several times, I attempted to touch his ear and he pulled away from me.  I looked at Eric and said, “Hey, I think there is something wrong with Iko’s ear.  He won’t let me touch it.  Watch.”  I bent down and quickly reached out to grab his ear.  And he quickly jumped up and bit me in the face.  He was in pain. 
Pain causes unexpected behavior - behavior that is atypical and not in the norm.


I have a sister who is a year younger than me.  At one point when we were teenagers, our mom  was on crutches for a stress fracture in her leg.  My sister was out with friends and I was home.  The phone rang and I could instantly tell by the look on her face that it was not a good call.  Within a few short minutes, she dropped both crutches and the phone and began to scream – hysterical screaming.  She paced back and forth across the dining room crying and wailing while the phone dangled from the cord.  My dad picked it up and talked.  He got the story.  When he hung up, he had to literally grab my mom by both arms and yell in her face, “PAULA, SHE IS OK!!  SHE IS OK!!”.  My sister had been in a car accident.  It was the hospital that was calling.  My mom was overcome by fear. 
Fear causes panic.  It prevents the ability to calmly listen.  It brings about fight or flight responses.  


Have you heard of Aron Lee Ralston?  He was born October 27, 1975.  He was an outdoorsman.  He hiked.  He climbed.  He rappelled.  On April 26, 2003, he was hiking through Blue John Canyon, in eastern Wayne County, Utah.  During the hike, a suspended boulder he was climbing down became dislodged and smashed his right hand against the canyon wall, trapping him for over 5 days.  He had not informed anyone of his hiking plans, so no one was searching for him.  He tried to free himself, but he could not.  He rationed his food and water, but he still ran out.  On the fifth day, he drank his own urine.  Then he broke his own arm.  Then he took out a dull, 2” knife and cut off his own arm. 
The desire to survive makes people do things they would never do otherwise.  


After the Ferguson verdict was read last night and we sat and watched the news, I wept.  Eric and I talked.  Actually, it was more like ranting, but still.   I read some articles online.  I read some news reports.  Then, I began the always frustrating process of reading through Facebook. 
I am glad that I have a wide variety of friends.  There are many, many issues that my ‘friends’ and I disagree on.  There’s politics.  There’s religion.  There’s adoption and foster care issues.  We spend our free time differently.  We spend our family time differently.  Our families look different and act differently.  We support different causes.  So, it’s never any surprise to me that I will see both sides of any issue supported on Facebook.  But what also never fails to surprise me is the lack of love that is frequently shown.  The lack of empathy.  The lack of compassion.  So often, these issues bring about a desire to ‘win’ – as if life is one big competition.  There is so little respect shown for people’s feelings.  There is only judgment. 
When I climbed into bed and was tossing and turning, still wiping tears from my eyes, Eric asked, “what’s wrong?  Ferguson?” and I answered, “No.  Not Ferguson –people’s responses to it.”  It breaks my heart.  It really does. 
I am sure that I have also been guilty of letting my passions and my strong opinions on some issues trump others' feelings.  Please don’t think that I believe I have it all together or that I am perfect.  I know I am not.  I just can’t help but be overwhelmed on this day by a desire for change.  My heart is so heavy, I almost couldn’t get out of bed this morning.  So, in the spirit of ‘let’s unite and make a change’, I am writing these things…

Please try to consider the other side of any issue.  Please try to share your thoughts and feelings with respect.  With compassion.  With love.

Please try to understand that a momma’s son was shot dead in the street.  Not once.  Not twice.  But five times.  Then he laid there for 4 ½ hours.  4 ½ hours!  Imagine that it was YOUR son or YOUR daughter.  Notice I did not mention his race or his age.  It doesn’t matter.  It was her SON!   He was someone’s son.  Someone’s best friend.  Someone’s brother.  He was a person whose life mattered to people and to God.

Please try to understand that those rioting are not representative of an entire race.  Just as the Christian’s who picket military funerals are not representative of all Christians and the Muslims who fly planes into buildings are not representative of all Muslims. 

Please try to understand that if you are white, you CANNOT understand what it is like to be black in America.  You have not experienced the unfair treatment by law enforcement.  You have not been picked out and watched by security in many stores that you’ve entered.  You have not endured years of injustice and discrimination.  You cannot understand.  So, don’t judge.

I am trying to understand that the police are people, too.  That they have a huge job to do and that they put their lives on the line every day.  That they are put in dangerous situations, sometimes with limited assistance, and that they have to make unspeakable decisions and then live with them for the rest of their lives.

I am trying to understand the fear and the sacrifice that the policemen’s families make sending their husband or their daddy or their mommy off to work every day knowing that it could be the last time they see them.

We all need each other.  We need to grieve together.  We need to fight injustice with love, with understanding, and with compassion.

I was thinking last night, and I really believe that if Jesus were here, He wouldn’t be standing up shouting what should be or who is right.  He wouldn’t be puffing out His chest and posting headlines that support how we should be living or why we’re all wrong.  He would be sitting amongst the broken people.  He would be holding them and wiping away their tears.  He would be loving His people.  We should be doing the same.

Father, forgive us all.

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40