The last six days have been anguished. George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis by a peace officer entrusted with upholding the law and the resulting riots have set America ablaze. Add to that the devastation on so many levels of a worldwide COVID pandemic and it’s not unexpected to feel a magnified sense of despair.
Life feels abnormal. What is most troubling is that the violence, injustice, anger, heartache, and death have existed for more than just six days. When things calm down – and they will – my attention will focus elsewhere. My life will return to normal. I am instructed that for so many, my abnormal is their normal.
Normal describes the behavior that is most common in society. Therein lies the tension. My normal is pretty good as it is. Compared to others, mine is exceptional. My 66 years have been off the map, over the top, extraordinarily good. Reality is sobering. Try it on for size.
1 in 3 Canadian girls and 1 in 6 boys experience an unwanted sexual act. 95% know the perpetrator.
1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health crisis or illness.
1 in 7 Canadians live in poverty.
235,000 Canadians were homeless in 2016.
100,000 cases of domestic violence in Canada in 2016.
The Aboriginal murder rate in Canada is 7 to 8 times higher than the overall rate.
Stats recorded in Toronto show that Blacks were 50% more likely to be taken to a police station for processing after arrest, and 100% more likely to be held overnight than were whites, even taking into account criminal history and age.
“I don’t see racism in my world, except when it explodes on my newsfeed,” writes Rev. Patti Pierce-Miller, a friend and pastor in downtown Montreal. “But why would I? I am white. It doesn’t cross my path. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and probably closer than I know.”
The video below is a perfect example of not seeing what is right in front of you because of what lies within you. The video is not about politics or calling the cops. It’s well worth 3 minutes of your life.
There is a difference between listening and hearing. I can listen and never hear anything. Listening is a way of masking the interior work of readying a response to another person’s words as soon as they stop to take a breath.
To be heard is be understood. Hearing makes space.
“I must do the work of imagining. Of listening without answering too quickly. Of learning without defending myself. I need to intentionally offer space to those who wonder if a white, middle-class, Canadian-born pastor might allow room for their story.”
And in the midst of the devastation there are the helpers – people who step in after others have stomped out.
Bad news makes the News but good news makes the difference. As my friend David Wells says, we need Kingdom normal – “…on earth as it is in heaven.”
APPLICATION: What are you seeing or hearing in your world now? Please join the conversation. Leave a comment below. Thank you.
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