All across the country the growing tensions between whites, blacks, law enforcement officers and leaders seems to be at a boiling point. People frustrated and screaming for change, people unaware of a need for any change and frustrated by all the tension, law enforcement officers, black or white, being targets at any given moment and still suiting up and defending even the protesters that put their lives at risk.
After the cop killings in Dallas, I held a little “summit” at my home. Friends of all colors and different backgrounds came over and we spent the evening together. We opened with praise and worship music, and then prayer. We agreed ahead of time that no matter how different we saw things, we would all walk away friends.
And then we dug in.
Asking the tough questions of one another, trying to understand how we could see the same society so differently.
I learned a lot that night.
I grew up being told that if I was ever lost or needed help, go to a police officer.
My black friends were taught to run from a cop.
I grew up basically trusting authority but being taught that I had the ability to question it and stand up for myself.
My friends from the hood had been taught that they would put themselves at risk if they ever questioned authority. And yet their anger demanded that they do. The frustration and hopelessness was overwhelming.
We argued. We pleaded with one another. We asked questions and sometimes I was shocked at the answers.
I’ll tell you that honestly, at the end of the night, I wrote down that the chasm between what we believed was too great to bridge. At the bottom of it all, we believed so fundamentally differently about our community, our country, and our history that it was like we were experiencing two different realities simultaneously.
And indeed we were. The lens at which we saw life , the viewpoints that we held so deeply, the fundamental beliefs and our foundational experiences were in many cases polar opposites. But what I learned that night is to realize that our immediate assumptions about anything — like a police involved incident– don’t make us racist. Of course by saying this, I am NOT saying that there ARE no racists, or that racism does not exist. But I think that term gets thrown around so quickly and loosely. It just shows the lens and the worldview through which we have experienced life. The question is, can we all begin to view things through lenses that are at least a little more similar?
Maybe not. We have to try and understand where each other is coming from. I’ll admit, that was difficult on that evening. But at least everyone gave their best effort.
Trying to understand. Agreeing to love and be friends and family in the faith at the end of the day ahead of time. Praying for our nation and our communities together. And keeping the dialogue moving in the hope of making a difference. By the end of the night, that was my prayer. At the end of the “summit,’ we all walked away friends. We all appreciated the opportunity to be heard. We all felt loved by the effort to understand. We all realized that there was a lot of work to be done and we prayed that the Lord would show us our part to play.
I’m open to another summit. I feel overwhelmed and heartbroken at the unrest in our country. I want to DO something, and other than gathering together to pray and learn from one another, I can’t think of something else that could make a difference. #Charlotte we are praying for you. And those of you that read this blog, I would encourage you to gather a little group together in your own home and try to bridge the gap. At the very least, your eyes will be opened to the way your friends with different backgrounds can see the very same nation so differently.