I am angry, saddened and disturbed by the weeks of violence that have been forced into my life. Uvalde, Buffalo, Costa Mesa…and nightly in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia…. I can go on and on.
Violence is not only in my consciousness, but now resides in my unconscious living. The other evening, I was sitting in a post office parking lot near the Burbank Airport waiting for the arrival of a plane. I have gone to this parking lot many times before and never gave it a second thought. This time I was apprehensive and very cautious. I watched people get out of their cars and go inside to pick up their mail. I scrutinized their actions. I watched what they were carrying. I even estimated the age of the men to determine if they were between 17 and 35. I realized, “I am living in fear.” I don’t want to live this way.
I am currently reading Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. If you don’t know about Thurman, look him up on Google or YouTube. The chapter I am reading is entitled “Fear.” For Thurman, the “disinherited” are people of color, Jews and other invisible humans in society. Fear, at the hands of oppressive forces, robs these brothers and sisters of their dignity and humanity. Systemic fear robs all of us of our dignity and humanity. He says, “When the power and tools of violence are on one side, the fact that there is no available and recognized protection from violence makes the resulting fear deeply terrifying.”
I can’t become paralyzed in the face of systemic violence that is aimed at our brothers and sisters of color and non-normative orientations and lifestyles. The violence perpetrated upon them is a part of my reality too. I do not stand outside of it. I am connected. Jesus, whose days were “nurtured in great hostility” mandates action anywhere and anyway we can.