Violence, Racism, and Hostile Rhetoric

humanityIn response to recent events in the United States, educators, parents, and clergy are again seeking resources for talking with children and engaging adults in meaningful action. In searching through past posts here, I realized that just six months ago I posted Are Prayers Enough? with the image created by Roger Hutchison from Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace following the mass shootings in San Bernardino. Within that post I listed numerous resources that churches and individuals could use to move the conversation forward – from prayer to action – regarding gun violence.

But not much has changed. It would seem to have even gotten worse. The hostile rhetoric from some like Donald Trump only amps things up, instilling fear and hatred toward “the other” – anyone who doesn’t look like us, speak like us, worship like us, or live like us. Who is the “us”? Sounds bites from social media featuring reactionary statements and speculative comments about individuals we do not know only fuel the fire.

In 1989 Billy Joel sang (for the first time), “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” recounting events from 1948 to 1989 in which our world lived through extreme times. But we can take his refrain to heart today, and try to change the outcome.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on…

Racism doesn’t need to keep on burning. This can be the time in our history when we decided to make a difference, to break and change the cycle that is tearing us apart. I’ve waited several days before posting, as I wanted to listen to the voices of others first. Following another week of violence, this time in particular the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, plus the six police officers in Dallas we are left numb again. Heartbroken for the families who have lost loved ones, speechless and numb as this is a daily occurrence in our country.

There have been many powerful words articulated by others. We must listen to those voices of prophetic wisdom and reason – not those that urge us to act agains the “other.” The systemic issues of racism won’t go away with reading a book to a child or having a six-weekly adult bible study. It won’t go away by locking people up or putting a wall around them so they won’t “taint us.” It will take ongoing work for generations to come. It will take the religious community (Christian, Muslim, Jew, and more) to take the lead of reason and speak up.

Sadly, it was a year ago this week that I wrote a post entitled Resources of Discussing Racism in which I listed numerous books, websites, and programs for engaging in this hard work. The post came on the heals of General Convention 2015 and the Black Lives Matter movement gained influence.  And it is work – it is work that the White community needs to do.

In addition to the lists and posts I’ve already put together noted on the links above, here are more:

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