It’s okay….

What’s okay? The news?

Nope

The crime figures?

Nope

The fact checker results when politicians give speeches?

Nope

The most recent Covid statistics and the grief and pain that they represent?

Not a chance

The anxiety ridden discussions that take place on places like Facebook as parents wrestle with big questions about this school year. At home? Online? What about work? My career? My high school and college aged kids – what will this do to their plans?

Last week I had a relative whose job changed drastically, a friend who had to go back to college to bring her daughter home – because she’ll be doing college from the basement rather than at college. Oh, and two families who decided that they were going to home school this coming year rather than send their kids to the local private school. That reduced the number of students at the school by 4.

One of the difficult things about churches, private schools, orphanages, missions is that often you are forced to make business-like decisions in the middle of a charity run organization – and often in very desperate times. So, that school I mentioned above, they removed 4 kids from the local private school – I don’t know, but I would be surprised if that didn’t cost the school $25,000 or more this year. How do they make that up?

And this week, one of the major political parties held their “virtual” convention. I know it’s necessary to finalize the candidate the delegates are supporting, but let’s be real…..

If you watched the speeches and listened to the talking heads analyzing it all 6 ways from everywhere, how much of it can you really believe it is true? I’m working on a very personal piece about that which I promise will be out before the election. It is hard to write because basically, I’m…….. (sorry, not going to give you a sneak peek.)

I’ve had conversations with some of you about the whole concept of righteous anger. If something truly crosses that “line in the sand” for you, then it is okay to be mad about it. It’s okay to be angry that _______ is happening. It’s okay to be upset that the President said _________. It’s okay to be angry at what those who are not following Covid guidelines are doing to the health of so many and frankly the health of our nation.

It’s okay to be angry.

It’s okay to be angry at God because He didn’t give you what you wanted.

It’s okay to be angry at politicians who you feel betrayed their word.

It’s okay to be angry about children who are caught in immigration struggles that POWs shouldn’t even have to face.

Get angry. But then don’t stop there. Don’t just walk around being angry.

It reminds me of the song by the Christian Music Artist, “Mike’s Chair.” It goes something like this:

“Then I shook my fist at heaven and I hollered, ‘God, why don’t you do something?”

And then God said, “I did……I CREATED YOU!!!!!”

We’re going to be talking a lot more about the “do something” part of it, for a number of reasons, but for now, just think about this thought…..

The world is messed up.

God’s okay with us being mad about it.

But he wants us to not be satisfied with being angry but to do something about it.

More to come,

Tom

Trayvon and George and ……

There’s not enough room to list them all on this page.

Trayvon has been dead for 8 years.

George has been dead since May 25 – not even 8 weeks.

Trayvon wasn’t the first.

George already isn’t the most recent.

Sharifa Stevens wrote about Trayvon and Joseph Kony 8 years at Why I Fear “Good” People: Trayvon Martin and Kony 2012

“What nauseates and scares me is the deafening silence from the masses concerning Trayvon Martin, our neighbor. It’s curious to me how easily 100 million people could see the Kony video, buying t-shirts and forwarding videos, and yet remain silent about the neighborhood watchman in their own backyard who shot an unarmed boy for carrying Skittles.”

Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. in his now famous, “Letters from a Birmingham Jail,” said,
• “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
• “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”
• “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
• “Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

Sharifa is a good friend of a friend of ours from my time working for the kids in Haiti. If she has Tara’s seal of approval, that’s good enough for me.

Dr. King’s “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” is so packed full of wisdom and insights into the church and race and our country.

There’s a lot more to be said and a lot more to be done.

Think about it and I’ve got more to say as we attempt to move forward……

In the mean time, can we all try something?

Even in times of social distancing, I’m positive that all of us can realize two things:
1. That we’re all different. We all bring different experiences, stories and more to this thing called life.
2. That it’s possible to disagree with someone without hating that person or insulting them.

If we realize those things, the conversation about this could be a lot more productive and a lot less destructive.

TV

He speaks truth…..

White People


Views of a College Student

Saturday, I had the opportunity to talk with a young woman who is a student at a local college.   She is studying PR and Marketing and self described herself as “a black girl.”

We got to talking and I asked her if she was from around here.   Her answer kicked off a very interesting discussion.    A couple of things that she said:

  • She is not from West Michigan and as soon as she graduates, she will not set foot in West Michigan again.   “I’m gone and I’m not coming back.”
  • When I asked her why, was there a problem with her college?   She said that her college is a great place for a person who is a minority.   I believe the terms she used describing her school were – “understanding, kind, open, and acceptance of everyone no matter what they look like.”
  • Outside of her school, she said that West Michigan is very unfriendly, very stereotypically close minded, very unwilling to blend with others who aren’t like them.   She said that she is a waitress and is the only black person on staff and she is amazed at not only the things her white co-workers say but also how they seem to have no concept of how their words hurt someone who isn’t part of the white power group.
  • We had a discussion about church and how there are very few churches in West Michigan (a very small percentage) where a single (not necessarily not married, but just 1 person) person of color  would walk into the church 10 minutes before their Sunday morning service would start.   What would the reaction be?   How would that reaction differ if I, as a white person, went to an all black church (btw – I would consider it a privilege to be invited to an all black church).
  • We talked about Madison Square Church – where my family and I attend and how we, as a church, are constantly wrestling with how to worship and lead and work as a joint group of mixed and diverse communities and how it is very hard but it can be done.
  • We talked about how do we change this?   How do we get rid of the racism that is causing so many problems in our world?    She laid out a very convincing case that the way to defeat racism is from the inside.   We need to work one on one, one person reaching out to another person and reaching past the difficulties, reaching to understand their viewpoint and reaching to help them understand your viewpoint and to acknowledge that your viewpoint might be very harmful to others and might be based on years and decades and centuries of ill will and unfair activity.
  • It’s two days later and I’m still processing what we talked about.   I’m amazed at this young woman’s perceptivity and intelligence and also her willingness to discuss difficult things with the antithesis of what she is – a middle aged white guy (me).   It was a big step on her part.

It was a step in the right direction for both of us.   She is going to give my information to the head of a group at her college that combats racism and hopefully we can connect them with Madison Square and make a bigger difference.

A chance meeting?

Nope, not a chance.

God knew that both of us needed to discuss a hard subject openly with someone on the other side of the color spectrum.

Pray that more of those type of conversations can happen.   Our community and our churches and our nation need it.

Tom