People have been dying in/on the streets of America for a long time, why now are we saying that #BlackLivesMatter? Black, Latino, Asian, White people have been killed in drive-by, robberies, targeted hits, etc. for quite a while! Yet, we are only now getting upset? We are blaming Law Enforcement only? Law Enforcement has responsibility for it's brutality and what about the rest of us? Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: "In a free society some are guilty, all are responsible." What is my responsibility in senseless killings/hatred? What is your responsibility in senseless killings/hatred?
I believe we all have a part in what is going on. Historically, we have sat around and complained and blamed "the other". In some parts of our country, we are still doing this. I don't know what it is like to be a black youth, especially when confronted by Law Enforcement. I don't know what it is like to be a Policeperson and feeling the hatred and threat of death by another person. I do know what it is like to be hated for being who you are. I do know what it is like to build something and have others try and tear it down. I do know what it is like to be hated for being a Jew. I do know what it is like to be hated because you are white. I don't like any of these experiences.
My response to the hatred is, most of the time, to not hate another person. My response, usually, is to look inside and see what I can do to bring about reconciliation. My response is to see how and where I am responsible. I have a part in everything that happens in my life. So do you. I know that you can recite chapter and verse of what I have done to cause this ____to you, do you recite chapter and verse of your part?
My friend and teacher, Pastor Mark Whitlock of COR Church in Irvine, Ca., says "we are all kin under the skin". AMEN, Pastor Mark!! How easy is it to forget this? We are all created in the Image of the Divine, according to our Holy Scriptures. What makes your image worth more than mine, more than a Black persons, a Latino persons, a White persons, an Asian persons, etc.? When I see your Divine Image, I can speak to you differently. I won't always agree with or even like you, AND I will not hate and try to kill you. When we live Pastor Mark's words, we are able to go beyond the exterior and see the beauty of another person's soul/spirit. When we live Pastor Mark's words, we are able to go beyond the exterior and see the beauty of our own souls.
Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries, another friend and teacher of mine, says "we have to erase the margins", "we are all kinfolk". We have put up gates not only on our streets, we have put up gates to our souls, to our hearts. We are wearing blinders so as to not see the humanity that teems around us. We don't see the humanity of another so we can "win", "be better than", etc. All this does is promote senseless hatred.
Rabbi Heschel also says: "Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin." These words along with the ones above, reverberate within me. We have to be aware and in celebration of the sublime wonder of living. We have to be responsible for all that goes on around us. We have to stand with everyone to promote wonder, awe and life or we stand with no one.
The call from God is loud, it rings in my ears and my soul. I have to cleanse myself of my errors, I have to look inside of me and see the Holiness and beauty of my soul/spirit. I have to 'clean my side of the street' and then help clean the streets of our cities, states, country. I have to reach out to help the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan inside of me and outside of me. I have to use my power to help others and myself live well. I have to use my authentic self to reach out and connect to others. I have to see you as "kin under the skin" and embrace rather than recoil. I have to "erase the margins" between us and see that we are indeed "kinfolk". I have to be responsible and bring understanding and solution, not just seek to blame and shame.
Rabbi Heschel says: "There is something sacred at stake in every event". Our humanity is at stake right now and always. Let us all reach into our souls and out to the souls of another(s) and celebrate our collective holiness and sister/brotherhood.