Part of the service at Soul City Church yesterday was devoted to grieving and praying in response to the attacks in Charleston, South Carolina, this week. I didn't expect it and it overwhelmed me.
I tend to tout my ignorance of current events and am often truly lost when conversations include it. I somewhat purposely avoid what's going on in the world as it's easier to bury my head in the sand than it is to face the horror that is the evening news. I'm not proud of this but I bring it up because I know I can't be alone in this. I'm part of a population that tends to avoid anything that encroaches being politically charged because it all feels like an amalgam of garbage that has a negative outcome no matter which side you stand on. I'm also outing myself because it's unacceptable behavior and yesterday's service made me realize how apathetic and weak it is that I'm not doing something about the racial divide that our country seems to be unable to move past. I've lived in the North and the South for a nearly even split of my life and I've seen it from Cleveland to Memphis to Chicago. In some parts of the country it's spoken in hushed tones; in other parts of the country it's put on display as a part of the fabric of the region as best articulated by John Stewart in his opening monologue for this past Thursday's Daily Show. The unavoidable fact is that, like sexism, there is a racism bias that effects all Americans and the only way we can fix it is to accept it and address it.
I'm aware of the blatantly negligent racist attacks and murders1 that have been occurring with increasing frequency in the United States over the past few years as anyone in the country is. It's been too loud of a noise for anyone not to be aware of it. I've watched the stream of tweets and video that follow as the protests break out across the country. I've been in downtown Chicago while death walks were underway. I've seen the wretched way that some have reacted by causing destruction and taking their anger out on cities and other people. This is war and it's occurring inside our country. We are tearing ourselves apart and the ripples of hate continue to grow. This is why I can't help but fall apart when reading the responses from the family members of the victims of the Charleston murders as they forgive Dylann Roof when given the opportunity to address him in court. Forgiveness is powerful and has the power to actually move the human race forward. The strength that it takes to forgive someone who murdered your family isn't something that comes without the greater strength of faith. Amongst all of the darkness is this light of forgiveness and I have faith that it's the start of a path to peace.
I'm asking that the rest of us pray for peace. Pray that we can forgive one another for the centuries of hatred that we allow to divide us. Pray that we can be conscious of our own biases and work to eradicate them. Pray that we can be the generation that isn't lethargic about racism as we raise our children. Pray for the peace that only God can bring in our broken world.
If you need to grieve and are in the Chicago area looking for a place to pray with others who are trying to figure out how we move forward as a human race; Soul City Church is opening it's doors to pray for peace as a community tonight at 7p.
1: Let's not sugar coat this. It's murder when you make a choice based on a bias and it leads to the death of another human.