There's been so much unrest these last couple of months as our world has watched a pandemic arise and ongoing social and racial inequalities come to life. As a Christian, I believe in trying to see things in a redeeming perspective.....taking time to reflect on how God allows things to unfold. I believe He wants the best for those who love Him and I hold fast to that. As a sociology major, my heart aches for people regardless of religion, country or socioeconomic status. I crave peace. I yearn for unity. I want change.
I believe this pandemic enabled us to see things globally for a time and observe that we all for one point in time had something in common. We were all trying to learn how to deal with a new normal of social isolation and protect our health. Then, as we were unified in some measure, George Floyd's murder catapulted us to different sides as we reacted to the video feed. For many, this was not a new normal. It was life.....or the continual loss of life. Many have grown up with the knowledge and normal, sometimes daily interactions with social and racial injustice. But many of us have not. George Floyd's last moments on this earth shed light on something that was only accepted in a smaller percentage of the nation and world. This moment no longer allowed other social circles to look away. It can't be ignored and I'm glad it has led to the outcry of the heartbreak that has gone on throughout history.
I felt the need to write something in those first days after news of George Floyd's death:
I'm sorry I failed you. I'm sorry I haven't stepped up and spoken up more for you and every human before you. I'm sorry I always wait for the details of an incident to decide whether a person should be manhandled.
I have never stood for racial division or social injustice. I have tried to teach my kids to love and respect every human being and appreciate what our Creator has made. I believe every life matters. Every life.
But I started to write this post as "I'm sorry WE failed you". That won't get me anywhere. Unity is essential to human failure in society but focusing on a "we" gives me a little ease and takes the alleviation off of ME. If I want change, it has to start with ME. It has to be ME looking at how I have contributed to the problem and begin to build a better world by starting with how I can be better myself.
It starts with finding the prejudice in my own life. The drum major instinct used for the wrong purposes. Martin Luther King Jr. explains, "The drum major instinct can lead to exclusivism in one's thinking and can lead one to feel that because he has some training, he's a little better than that person who doesn't have it. Or because he has some economic security, that he's a little better than that person who doesn't have it. And that's the uncontrolled, perverted use of the drum major instinct." He goes on to say, "But this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. "I must be first." "I must be supreme." "Our nation must rule the world." And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I'm going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken."
I have to look at my life and find where I have perverted the drum major instinct. Dr. King got it right....and delivered these words 2 months before he was murdered. It's worth the read if not every week, at least once. Dr. King's words are crucial. He says, "If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.
I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.
And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.
I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of the most incredible speeches I have ever read in my life that you can catch up on here. Since this post, I have learned more about myself and others and that the best thing I can do in this time is to listen. I need to know I will not doing everything right and that I can learn to do better by listening. These events gave me an opportunity to think about how I live my life and who is in it. How my life is shaped by my race, neighborhood and who I interact with. Even more so, who I do business with. My business is my ministry but I have also noticed my business reflects a predominant amount of white individuals. There's nothing wrong with photographing people but I want to intentionally interact more with a diverse amount of people. I have been thinking and praying about ways to interact with my town and the people in it and also allowing my work to showcase the rainbow of skin colors that God made. It will be a process and a continual evaluation of how I live life but it is important. It is one way I can help bring change. I believe Black lives matter. I believe all lives matter but that all lives don't matter until those trampled on matter. Right now, we know black lives aren't being treated equally and that means they need to matter.
In all the chaos and strife, there has been beauty in this outbreak. I have seen people rise up together, speak with passion, people embrace over values that only love creates. I don't want to miss the moment. This life matters and what I do in it matters.