Racist or Cop-Hater: Take Your Pick

Source: http://slate.me/1xAVgi6

If you don’t know what happened last night to cause the Internet to implode with hatefulness and sorrow, then you are living under a rock. Go read about the Ferguson decision, and then come back to me.

Got it? Good.

I’ve got to tell you, guys: I hate this so, so much.

Regardless of how I feel about the Ferguson decision (spoiler alert: I’m not too pleased), I feel especially awful about how everyone seems to be handling it. We’re handling it like we handle every other thing that ever happens: we’re taking sides.

The thing is, regardless of whose side you’re on, whether your side is inherently right or not, people on your side are doing wrong things. They’re being hateful.

Because hatefulness is the nature of division.

Anything but complete unity is broken and ugly. Obviously we won’t ever have perfect unity on any issue, especially not ones with consequences this huge; but when we post that Facebook status or declare our positions without thinking, we alienate, offend, and embitter others. We say, “I’m against what you are for,” which translates to hate which translates to conflict and rage and pain. Everything is polarized, and what was a sea of gray becomes black and white.

Or rather, since black and white implies wrong and right, red and green may be more apt. Complete opposites, both of which may have started out closer to the middle of the color wheel but have been brought out to the fringes as they clump together with those similar and distance themselves from those different.

A young man is shot dead and the officer who killed him set free, and everyone’s all of a sudden either a cop-hater or a racist.

Nations battle for rights to hallowed ground, and we draw lines half a world away and line ourselves up, backs turned, according to our gut reactions.

A bill passes retracting a previously established political stance and you’re either a bigot or a baby killer.

Either way – any way – like it or not, you’re positioning yourself as someone else’s enemy.

Even in the church, this happens all. the. freaking. time.

And that’s really not okay, because we’re supposed to be the ones out-loving everyone else, seeing as how we’re pulling from an eternal well of him-first-loving-us.

But why do we do this?

I don’t think any of you means to be offensive. I think that each of us has a background and psyche and set of emotional baggage that affects the way we process these kinds of events, and no one has a way of knowing what yours is unless you tell them.

For example, some of you may have no idea that I have a black brother who I worry about all the time due to events like this, so you may not understand why I, a sheltered white girl, choose to pay so much attention to issues of race in this country.

Just like I may not understand what it feels like to have your husband or wife, an officer serving and protecting, come home and deal with the terrible, difficult decisions made that day just to protect others.

Glennon Doyle is the best, and she wrote an incredible blog post about this today. Read it here.

Tumblr has been only slightly less scary than Facebook today, so I’ve spent a lot of time there. I’ve seen this quote from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables circulating quite a bit over the last few hours:

“There are accepted revolutions, revolutions which are called revolutions; there are refused revolutions, which are called riots.”

But I disagree wholeheartedly. I think that the real revolutions, the ones that result in lasting and wholly positive change, are such an entirely different animal that no one would ever label them as riots, failed or not.

I believe that, if both sides made themselves vulnerable to each other, we would remember that we have more similarities than differences and that makes up enough common ground for us to stand on, as long as we aren’t trying to push each other over the edge.

I believe that love wins, and if you feel like you’re losing then the best thing to do is just keep loving.

So instead of drawing borders, how about we cross them? Instead of turning our backs, why can’t we turn into each other’s arms? Because at the end of the day we’re all human beings, and we all matter. Michael Brown’s life and death matter. Darren Wilson’s life matters. So let’s all just take a step back and breathe.

Actually, don’t do that.

Don’t take a step back. We’ve taken enough steps back, away from each other. How about instead we take a step in.


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