Where are our Nelson Mandela’s, Desmond Tutu’s, and Martin Luther King, Jr’s? Where are their voices? Where is peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness in our country and in our families? Our brilliant church leaders – those who truly inspire – are limited in their ability to gather communities because of social distancing. Uncertainty prevails in almost every aspect of our lives.
Our nation is experiencing a great divide. Brothers and sisters warn that politics are not welcome at the Thanksgiving table or the Christmas gathering. This has been going on for years in the United States. Don’t talk about things that matter, so we don’t have to discuss our differences. Instead, let’s talk recipes, sports (in the good old days), traffic and weather. That way, we won’t have to worry about a brawl at the kitchen table or a door slamming exit.
Then COVID-19 hits, and families reconnect to check on loved ones. Are you safe? Do you have what you need? Are you able to get groceries and toilet paper? We had six weeks of checking in, and we became restless. The economy suffers, unemployment skyrockets, businesses close, restaurants struggle to survive with curb-side pick-up. People request cocktail take-outs. Liquor store sales sour, and bicycle shops sell out.
A new gap slips in – to wear a mask or not wear a mask. Families check on each other to see where they have been. You traveled? Did you quarantine for fourteen days? You went to a retail store? Did you really need that item? It becomes a badge of honor if you don’t go out. I brag that I have not been to a grocery store in over ten weeks. Are you proud of me? Am I a good American? But I share a bed with someone who goes to work. I slip in esteem.
Next, George Floyd’s death deepens wounds and ignites unrest exacerbated by the Coronavirus. Now the disparity between families is about to protest or not protest, to argue about looters vs peaceful protesters, to disagree about the value of the local police force, to fight about inequality, racial disparity, and gun control, to quote statistics that support one-sided arguments – whatever side you’re on. Your selected media will support whatever you believe and convince you that the opposition is dead wrong.
I’m worried. I’m worried about how lost we are in disagreement, separation, racism, and fear. We need to talk about our disagreements in order to grow in understanding each others’ perspectives. We listen, and we can agree to disagree. Vehement arguing and harboring the “you’re dead to me” mentality is destructive. It can be nearly as painful as death. Believe me, I know.
The Prayer of St. Francis is all about praying to be instruments of peace. We all have that capacity. We all have the ability to act with kindness, to listen, to heal each other. We need dialogue, and we need safe places to have it. It starts in our homes and ripples outward. In order to feel safe, we have to trust that we are loved – unconditionally.
I ask where are the peaceful leaders? They are right within us along with the goodness of God. The world may seem to dwell in darkness right now, but we as individuals can help shed Light. Reconciliation starts in our hearts and is fueled by love. Dialogue is needed for peace. Please listen to each other. Please don’t shut each other out. Please do what you can in your piece of this beautiful universe to make a difference in the lives of those you are blessed to touch.