“I Can’t Breathe”

Sorry for the lack of posts from me.
I've been feeling a tad bit overwhelmed, but I'll get to that in a minute.

In the mean time, I hope that you take time to read some of the stories that folks have been sharing on this blog through the #whyIbelieve series. I've always been fascinated with people's stories — especially ones about their faith in God. So I've asked a whole bunch of people if they were willing to share their story. Every Wednesday for the next few weeks, a story will be shared about why someone believes in God. If you want to share your story, let me know. I would love to read and share it on this blog!

Back to feeling a bit overwhelmed. I'm not feeling overwhelmed with the workload, church, or anything like that. I'm feeling overwhelmed because I don't know what to say or write on this blog in light of recent events.
I have lots of thoughts that I have written down — comparing U2 and Taylor Swift with the local United Methodist Church; comparing Marvel's Phase 1, 2, and 3 plans and DC's plan and comparing that to the local church; and I'll get to those, eventually.

But I can't get my head around the things that have taken place in our country in the past week.
It has dominated my head and broken my heart — but I can't think of words to capture my state of mind.
I was disappointed but not surprised with the decision of the Grand Jury regarding Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, and Ferguson.
But I'm angry and heartbroken in the case of Eric Garner. And I'm weary of how certain media and news outlets will spin this story. Maybe they won't. Maybe they'll try to bury it as deep as possible and focus on the newly minted ambassadors.

“I can't breathe.”

That phrase just stirs up so many emotions I just don't know how to process and comprehend.

And when I look at my congregation, I often feel alone when it comes to racial matters because I'm a minority — and it's painfully obvious that I'm a minority in ethnicty, age, and life stage. But that's an unfair and unhealthy projection on my congregation because despite our differences in the areas I just mentioned, they have always been loving and caring — and for the most part, willing to listen. And I am grateful.

I remember the days when I chose to be ignorant. How true that ignorance is bliss. But somewhere along my journey, I realized that I did not want to be caught up in that kind of bliss. And as Roger Goodell once told the Saints organization, “Ignorance is not an excuse.” (And how ironic that he tried to use 'ignorance' as an excuse in the Ray Rice case…)

So, I'm left with “what do I do now?”

And I don't know.
I pray.
I pray for my country.
I pray for my African-American Sisters and Brothers.
I pray for healing and reconciling and redeeming.
I pray for community.
And I pray for my church and local community in that we engage in actions and conversations that promote healing and reconciliation rather than further division.

But I have the sense at some point, I need to be acting while I'm praying.

Because — though I hate to use this phrase in fear that I make light of the situation — I can't breathe.

So, I'll just leave you with the words of Ben Watson, TE of the Saints and his words, just in case you haven't read them yet.

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:
I'M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
I'M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.
I'M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I'm a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don't know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
I'M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
I'M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
I'M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
I'M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I've seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
I'M CONFUSED, because I don't know why it's so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don't know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I'M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it's us against them. Sometimes I'm just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that's not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That's not right.
I'M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I'm not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I'M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it's a beautiful thing.
I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s