Too often, when things happen around us that we do not understand or that make us uncomfortable, our immediate response is, “Yes, but…” “Yes, George Floyd died, but he might have had a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill.” “Yes, black lives matter, but all lives matter, too.” “Yes, there are some bad cops, but we still have the greatest justice system in the world.”
And while these statements may technically be true, the “Yes, but…” response is an attempt to shift the focus from the uncomfortable reality in our society to something more palatable to our conscience.
But stop and think with me for a second. What would you NOT be willing to do if it had been your father or mother, your spouse, your son, daughter, or grandchild under the knee of that police officer? How would you respond if you heard their cries asking for mercy, asking for something as simple as breath?
One thing we, the majority race in America, need to come to terms with is that this is not new. This injustice has been plaguing people of color for centuries. It is just now we cannot ignore it or dismiss it. It is splashed across the evening news and every social media channel possible. After all, we all heard the words, “I can’t breathe.”
I hear people of color say things that cause an emotional response within me. “It’s a white man’s world.” “This is how it has always been.” “I am hopeless that things will ever change.”
In Genesis 4, we read the story of Cain, who, as a result of his jealousy, killed his brother Abel. As God speaks to Cain, he asks, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) At this moment, it is time for many us to stop talking, to stop posting, to stop the “Yes, but…” mentality and listen. The blood of people whose skin tones may be different than our own but are still made in the image of God is crying out from the ground.
Just because it hasn’t happened to you or me doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t real. And right now we have a choice. We can ignore what is going on, which implies we don’t believe our brothers and sister of color and assume they are making up claims of injustice and systemic racism. We can hear the news and even care, but do nothing, knowing that our silence and inactivity is our complicity. Or we can choose the way of Christ. We can stand up and be counted with people of color to say we will no longer sit idly by when any person, male or female, and any skin color, red, yellow, black, or white, suffers unjustly in a system of our own creation.
God is not colorblind, nor does he ask or want us to be. The cultural, ethnical, and colorful diversity of our world is part of God’s beautiful creation. The real dividing line isn’t skin color but between those who stand and act for justice and those who do not.
Let’s not be deceived, pacifying ourselves, thinking this is someone else’s problem. Or be dismissive thinking this is a Democrat or Republican issue. It is a justice issue. And God has always been a God of justice who calls his people to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)
At Ashworth Church, we may not be the first to issue a statement about what we see happening in our world. However, this does not mean we aren’t listening, or we don’t care. We have been and will continue to be in meaningful conversation as a staff and leadership, and in conversation with people who have voices we need to hear. We desire to do more than respond right in the present. Our desire is to find ways we can continue this conversation far into the future to help bring real, systemic change in our community as long as injustice exists.