Do you see what I see when communities are torn apart by unspoken racist realities? Do you see what I see when riot gear, militarized vehicles, explosions, and unrest light up a silent night? Do you hear what I hear when an entire community erupts in frustration over the failure of a grand jury to indict a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager? Do you hear what I hear when an unarmed black man says, “I can’t breathe” to a white police officer choking him? Do you know what I know when we deny that race is still an issue in the United States? Do you know what I know when an entire society tries to bottle up years of distrust, anger, and sadness in a culture that values markets more than those who are oppressed because of the color of their skin, the size of their bank account or credit score, and their social class?
We are broken. We are afraid of naming reality as it stands. We are unable to see the inherent human dignity of black lives. We are hypocritical when we talk about diversity and do not engage with those outside of our own race or social class. We may be well intentioned with our words, but words are hollow when we do not follow through with our actions. We are looking to be guided by a bright light in the darkness that touches all people, black and white, rich and poor. Yet we are grasping at this light with our eyes closed, choosing to walk blindly in the dark rather than stand with eyes open in the light. We are ignoring Christ’s challenge to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. We are living our lives with closed hearts.
Our hearts need to break. For a society that does not value black lives as important. For a justice system that does not follow through on its promise of fairness for black US citizens. For a world that is so afraid of vulnerability that it hides itself in false successes of economic prosperity, empty entertainment furnished by the commodification of human life, and hollow words of hope.
Lord, we pray for you to fill our broken hearts. Come, so that Your light can overcome all of this darkness.
Jeff Wallace is a campus minister at Merrimack College and regular contributor to God in All Things.