I have been told on more than one occasion that I’m the guy that always knows what to say. Though I know better, it does encourage me to use the gifts I’ve been given. But today I have far more questions than answers. How do I say (or write) the words I just don’t have.
Yet another horrific occurrence has taken place this week as a man’s life was snuffed out for fear he would continue to resist. Fear is a dangerous thing on every side of situations like that. Fear makes one man cower and another man bow up. Fear makes the pulse race and the options fade. Fear makes the person that is different from me seem dangerous to me.
And while it lies to me, it keeps me from hearing the truth that I know in my calm, thoughtful, clear moments.
But it keeps happening. And it keeps happening to the same unique population within our country. Brothers and sisters, made in the image of God, whose lives are cut short due to fear, keep dying in bad situations poorly handled.
And here in my comfortable office in my comfortable community far, far away from those cold big-city streets, fear works on me. It tells me I don’t have anything to say. It tells me I can’t speak about the injustice because I shouldn’t offend my friends and neighbors in law enforcement. It tells me I can’t speak because I don’t spend time with people who look different from me. It tells me I can’t speak because I am the textbook middle aged white man.
But… fear lies.
There are a significant number of young men in this world that call me dad or for whom I have a father-like role. Three of those young men in particular look very different from me. They look a lot more like the man being held down by his neck than the officer kneeling thereon.
These young men are people I have not only an opportunity but a God-given responsibility to speak to about the hard realities of life. These are the ones to whom I must speak… wisely, carefully, deliberately.
These are the ones who so need the words I don’t have. I can’t say why someone who looks like me could hate someone that looks like them. I can’t explain why I will probably always whisper a prayer without words for their protection when they leave my presence just because they will face stuff that their brothers who were born to me never will.
At least for this moment, I’m the dad in their lives. And no amount of wise words or good teaching or careful warning will prevent someone from fearing them because they look different.
God help me! I want to say something—to them, to you, to anyone who might read these words… I want to express my outrage and my fear and my embarrassment that stuff like this still happens in this place we still somehow call the land of the free.
How do I say the words I don’t have?