Like many Americans, I am struggling right now. I don’t know what to say. The words don’t seem to match my feelings. I am frustrated, and scared, and sickened. And when these feelings bubble up, my initial reaction is to find someone to blame. That might be natural, but I don’t know that I can sit here and tell anyone else what they should do, say or feel. So I will focus on me. Let me start with an acknowledgement.
I am a part of the problem.
Like nearly every person, I have my own biases. I have opinions about people based on my past experiences. I judge people based on their appearances. I make snap judgements based on my feelings rather than logic. My decisions are often motivated by my own insecurities, fears and ignorance. I want to be better than that. But I am human.
I am a part of the problem…but acknowledging it is the first step.
The video of the George Floyd incident is one of the more disturbing things I have seen in quite some time. It sickened my soul. And while every person I know said it was terrible, I struggled with the idea of commenting on it. My silence was certainly not intended to condone anything. I was just hesitant of what I could possibly say to add to the discussion in a meaningful way. Let’s face it, as a white male in a predominantly white region, how could I possibly understand?
I can’t.. But I can understand right and wrong. And if that happened to a person I cared about, I too would be hungry for justice.
As I mentioned, I have my own personal biases. To be candid, I think we all do. These biases are natural. But they do not help with the current dialogue if they are left alone. If left unchecked and unchallenged, these biases become stronger.
I can certainly tell you I am not a racist. But I don’t know anyone that would say they are (at least out loud) so what good does that do?
What I do think is important for me to do is to take out these biases and talk about them. I need to inspect them. By authentically, honestly and openly discussing these opinions and fears (and make no mistake, many of them are based in fear) we take away some of their power. In between sensational video clips of riots, we are seeing some of that dialogue now, and it provides me hope.
So what can I do? I think acknowledging my bias is an important first step. Then I need to enter the conversation with an open mind and an open heart.
How can we make this better? I am not sure…but I want to help find an answer because I think our children (and their children) deserve better than this.