It is 8 minutes 46 seconds that has been seen around the world. The death of George Floyd has played over and over on TV. The protests, the demonstrations both violent and peaceful playing out each night. The placard that spoke to me was the one that said: We may not know how you feel but we stand with you! Romans 12:15. (Be happy with those who are happy. Weep with those that weep.)
These past few weeks we weep as we look systemic racism right in the face.
I had a strange thought this week as I was eating supper. We had these real nice white buns and I ripped one in half as I always do. And I thought: you know once the bun is ripped apart you can never get it back together again. Strange thought eh!
It got me thinking, or Musing, as it were; we are encountering a time in our history that is being torn apart. Protests and demonstrations in the streets all over the United States, Canada and Europe. And people are crying out Black Lives Matter!
I grew up in a town in Saskatchewan where there were no black people. But was there racism? Oh, you bet. There was a culture that was hidden beneath the surface of society that I as a white kid of privilege didn’t see until I was older. Prejudice and racism is not hereditary but rather is learned.
It was not heard or tolerated in my own family but the school yard was full of it. The jokes, the stories, the phrases of intolerance. Where did the other kids get this stuff from? It had to be from their families.
As a child growing up I didn’t know about residential schools or the plight of native kids in these schools. I only saw my heroes of my teenage years, Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. I saw them as a fight against the establishment not seeing the underlying cause of why they were fighting. I heard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for civil rights in the United States; but as the saying goes: “unless you walk a mile in another man’s shoes you don’t know how he feels”.
The prejudice in our town was like that in most towns. It came from fear of the unknown and ignorance. The poor folks from north of town lived in falling down shacks. They lived on the wrong side of the tracks, as if poverty was some kind of sin. The Chinese folks that owned the two restaurants in town were looked down upon. The Jewish kids were the brunt of many a joke. My Dad told of The Klu Klux Klan burning crosses on the front lawn of his Roman Catholic Church in the neighbouring town in the 1920’s. Why? Because they spoke a different language, had a different culture.
As I look back upon my childhood there was racism and prejudice everywhere.
When I moved to Dresden Ontario in grade 12, I met my first black friends. Dresden is the home of Uncle Toms Cabin and the end of the Under Ground Railroad. My good friend is the curator of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Museum. 40 years ago Albert and Brenda took Sue and I to see a musical in Windsor called the Freedom Train. It told the story of slaves fleeing the southern United States to freedom in Canada. I think we were some of the only white folks in the theatre. I remember feeling so ashamed of the treatment blacks experienced at the hands of whites. I never knew what to call it but the phrase over the last few years expresses it very well: Black Lives Matter.
When Jesus came to live amongst us, he came to tear apart that old bun. The bun was never meant to be kept whole. It was meant to be shared.
Life was never meant to be just for the privileged few. Jesus took the bread broke it apart and said….take eat this is my body given for you.
As the protests and demonstrations occur around the world, we the church need to take a knee along side of our brothers and sisters. We need to pray for justice and peace. No man should ever cry out I can’t breathe!
If there was a time for revival. The time is now!
(Be happy with those who are happy. Weep with those that weep. Romans 12:15))