Three Words

I learned a lot from three words yesterday.

I saw them on the office door at my counselor’s office.   I wasn’t supposed to be there, we were supposed to meet online.   But I didn’t hear him say it and he doesn’t remember.   So we met by phone a little later.

But while we were figuring that out, I was in the outside lobby of the building.   I think someone was there because the main doors were open.  Anyway, on the door to Randy’s office, it said something like this:

“Due to the pandemic and the desire to keep everyone as safe as possible, we will be doing all of our appointments by FaceTime (not that exact one but close).  In the mean time, enjoy the extra time you have and enjoy it with family or do the projects around the house (if you already have the supplies), spend more time with the family.  

Or Just Be.”

Or just be…..  Take some pressure off your own self and just be.  Be in the moment.  Be in the day.   Don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t try to solve all of your problems today, just deal with the problems that are necessary today.

Or just be…. And if that means you have a little smaller stash of ice cream around, then so be it.

Or just be….and don’t take it personally when the Joneses across the street have successfully pulled all 452 dandelions out of their yard and you haven’t even mowed yours yet.

Or just be…..  Rest in the confidence that God is bigger than the evil that happened to George Floyd.  Rest in the comfort of knowing that He knows what’s going to happen before we could even imagine it.

Or just be….. Be well even when the world is not – because God is.

or just be……a smiling face to someone who is having a hard time making things look anything other than awful.

or just be.

Right now that’s hard, really hard.  But we can all do it.

If we all do our part to help our “neighbors.“

TJV

P.S.  I will talk more in a bit about Randy (my counselor) and why I think it would do everyone good to have someone like that to talk to…….

The NFL did the unthinkable: it gave Donald Trump the middle finger | The Guardian

The main resident of 1600 Pennsylvania made a big deal about Colin Kapernick when he first rattled the NFL in 2016 by taking a knee rather than standing at attention.  Many of Colin’s teammates, opposing team members, coaches, and management opposed Colin and did so in a not very polite way.  It cost him a larger portion of his career.  But he knew what was right and stuck with it – even when his teammates and former teammates didn’t and were quite rude about it.  Let’s jump into the Guardian’s article.

Then the players turned to the deep rift that has existed between players and owners ever since Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem in 2016 to protest against racism. They asked the NFL to apologize and recognize the current moment by putting out a statement with these words:  “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people. We, the NFL admit were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all that speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL,

Source: The NFL did the unthinkable: it gave Donald Trump the middle finger | Sport | The Guardian

A step in the right direction?

I think so.  But it’s only a step on a long journey.

TJV

A Voice

I just heard it said on TV (so you know its true) that these last 70 days – with the pandemic, multiple high profile black murders…… These last 70 days make one of the most turbulent times we’ve been through since the Civil War.

The Civil War – think about it. That’s like 165 years ago.

We’ve seen riots breaking out all over.

I turned on Jimmy Fallon (Tonight Show) and he went through his entire show sharing his feelings on learning that he as a white man was making the world a more difficult place for those who aren’t white.

There have been a lot of people talking about whether rioting was appropriate and whether going to another town to protest was appropriate.

I’m going to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from “Letters from the Birmingham Jail.” This wont be the last time that I’ll be talking about what Dr. King says. For now……

“The riot is the voice of the unhearded.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Letters from a Burlington Jail) is saying that what you need to do is look at people who make their voice heard in a protest, well the majority of them at least, are rioting because they feel that is the only way they will be heard.

So, when you see a news report about a riot, look at it from the standpoint of the protestors doing that so they can have a voice.

It changes your perspective.

TJV

Of Curfews and Clean Up

So if you read any of the local news about the rioting in Grand Rapids Saturday and/or you watched the news yesterday, it raised a couple of questions in my mind…

Was there more than one reason that people came downtown Grand Rapids Sunday morning to help clean up?
• Obviously, there were. There were 100 businesses that were damaged, so if every business had 4 people there cleaning up, thats 400 people.
• Plus, if you believe what you see on the news, there were a lot of people who showed up out of the goodness of their hearts. I believe that to be true as well. I believe that there were people who came to downtown Grand Rapids to help clean up because they are good people and want to do what they feel is best for our city.
• Also, I think there are a lot of people who realize that the businesses downtown have taken a big hit with the pandemic and want to do something to make it a little easier for them to rebuild. One bump in the road is one thing. A bump in the road as well as big ditch is another thing and a whole lot harder.
• There might very well have been (as I’ve heard/read on more than one place) that part of the clean up crew might have been there because they didn’t want to have people see the “protest side” of Grand Rapids when they went back to work today.

One other thing about the protests and today. The Mayor made a declaration of emergency (probably the wrong term but you get what I mean) and as part of that, put a curfew in place from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM unless you are going to or from work. “Oh that sounds like a good idea – make sure that things are calm tonight and tomorrow night.”

We found out tonight that one of our kids youth group leaders was arrested for violating the curfew tonight. She and her husband and I believe 4 others went and sat calmly in the middle of the Rosa Parks Circle shortly before 7:00 P.M. and waited for the police. Apparently it took 9 minutes until the cops came and arrested them.

Was a peaceful protest the right approach to the curfew? Or should it just have been, “oh, okay, time to stay home tonight?”

A peaceful protest to the curfew essentially says, “okay, we are’t causing problems – we are just making it known that we dont agree with the curfew.” Why did they disagree with the curfew? I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure its not something that they are doing because they had a family party to go to.

I’m also pretty confident that they didnt protest the curfew because they just want to complain about government policies.

I think that they protested the curfew in a calm peaceful manner because they felt quite strongly, strongly enough to be willing to get arrested and sent to jail that the curfew was sending the wrong impression.

What was the curfew saying? “We can all breath a sign of relief. The protest is done, the city is calm and all is well.”

Uh, yeah, not really. Omar and Ariana and the other 4 are protesting the curfew because they believe that the curfew sends a message which says, “whew, thats over now we can all go back to normal.” And they want to say…..

Not so fast. What has really changed since Friday? Nothing. There has been been no change in the systemic and institutional racial bias that plaugues this country.

A curfew gives an impression of calm answers. We don’t have that, so protesting is kind of a reminder – hey look, we still have the problems.we need to deal with.

Clean up and curfew. Progress in some ways. Questions and disturbance in others.

And tomorrow the sun will come up.

The struggle will still be there.

TV

Heartache…..

You never thought it would happen here. But it did.

You never thought the feelings would run that deep. But they did.

You never thought that you’d see reporters dodging tear gas in Grand Rapids. But we did.

You never thought that we would have an epidemic/pandemic that is killing thousands of people all over the world and setting everyone’s nerves on edge. But we do.

You never thought we would see a silent protest turn into a “not silent” protest which then boiled over to a riot with looting and mayhem. But we did.

You never thought people would come from other parts of the state and further to protest and get violent here in Grand Rapids. But they did.

You never thought you’d see your friends and neighbors putting their lives on the line because they work as part of the police department. But they did. Because that’s what professional police do.

You never thought that the behavior of 4 police officers in a state quite a ways away would cause this amount of anger and frustration. But they did.

You never thought….. Of course you didn’t because in many ways you’re “white like me” and police brutality is something you read about in the paper, not something you live with every day.

You never thought….. Of course you didn’t because you didnt have to worry about your neighbor pulling out for work with a tail light that wasn’t working – because you know if he gets pulled over with it, there’s a substantial chance that he’d have a harder time with the police than you would.

You never thought that “the voice of the unheard,” would take place in terms of burning cars, angry words, broken windows, silent protests and many other forms. But we did.

It’s been a dark night in Grand Rapids. A lot of anger spilled over and the outlook wasn’t pretty. Lots of violence, lots of anger, lots of people holding signs – all different ways of showing that this is bigger than George’s death the knee of a police officer.

Police Brutality, mass incarceration, the list goes on and on.

We saw tonight that the desire for a change is bigger, bigger than whether you march in peaceful protest and bigger than whether it makes the national news because it turned violent.

God, our hearts ache for our brothers and sisters with brown and black skin. Help them to feel that many of us – the white guys – stand with them and want to make this world a better place for them.

TV