There is no us vs. them…’s just US!

Theres only us

In light of all the recent shootings that have taken place in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Dallas, Texas, our country is in an uproar. And, rightly so.  My heart aches for my country and specifically for all those involved in these situations.  Facebook is full of opposing commentary of these events.

Blue Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

All Lives Matter!

We need more gun control. 

We need more armed citizens.

They were thugs.

They were good men.

The police are corrupt and racist.

The police are heroes.

It just doesn’t stop.

We live in an “us vs. them” society.  This attitude hasn’t ever and will never work. The problems in our nation will not be solved with an us vs. them mentality.  It is going to take all of us to fix the mess that we are in.  It’s going to take all of us working together to make things better for our children and our grandchildren.  Otherwise, nothing will change.

When we begin to look to others to fix the problems (because we see them as the problem) we end up believing that the problem isn’t ours.  Worse, when we begin to blame others for the problems we end up excusing ourselves as if we are not the part of the problem.

To some degree, we are all part of the problem.

How can I say that?  Because we don’t stop to actually put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We all carry judgments and presupposed ideas, even if it’s the slightest of judgements.  Don’t believe me? Think about this.

Have you ever met someone and decided that you didn’t like them? As time went on, you discovered their story and found out that they were not as bad as you thought.  You may have even become friends.  Has this ever happened to you?  I am sure that it has.  Which means you judged someone before you knew all the facts.  All of us do this to some degree or another.

We are doing it now.  Some of us blame the police.  Some of us blame the victims.   The problem is that we don’t have all the facts.  Even if we did, if it went against our presupposed ideas, we probably wouldn’t believe the facts anyway, because it is always someone else’s fault.  It seems that we always need a scapegoat, someone else to blame.

But the scapegoat is us, all of us.  We are all capable of violence, being judgmental, being racist, and just plain being evil.  We’ve all done things against someone else that we regret.  It might not as bad as murder, but Jesus said that when you hate someone you might as well have murdered them.

You see, if we don’t learn to love then we will hate.  More importantly, if we don’t learn to love, then we will fear.  I believe that the opposite of love isn’t hate but fear.

There is so much fear in racism or most types of “isms” for that matter.  When we fear someone we try to keep them “in their place.”  But love believes all things, hopes all things, trust all things.  Love looks for and believes in the good in people.  Love looks at people through the eyes of God, and not the judgmental, log filled eyes of a fallen humanity.

I don’t have the ability to judge someone else properly and neither do you. I don’t have the ability to judge videos either because I can’t see everything.

Only God sits that high.

He knows the hearts, the backstories, the hurts and the reasons why people do what they do.  Does that justify their actions?  Absolutely not.  It doesn’t give them the right to hurt others or treat others inhumanely.  What it does do is make them somewhat understandable.  Granted, they could be a sick, perverted, deeply broken, and even an evil person.  However, they are still a person made in the image and likeness of God.  They are being passionately pursued by a loving Creator who desperately wants a Father-child relationship with them.

I am not here to judge whether the police were justifiable in shooting these alleged victims.  I have my opinions but they do not really matter.  What matters is my response.  My primary response needs to be love.  Love for the police officers, love for those that were shot, love for the families of each.

My first response is to love those that are different than I am.  I am to love those that disagree with me, that see things differently than I do.  Jesus went so far as to even command us to love our enemies, to show them love by serving them.  That’s a very radical, but doable, idea.

I do not, and cannot even pretend, to know what it’s like to grow up black, or to grow up in “the hood”, or to be racially profiled.  I don’t know what it’s like to watch my friends die in the street or be pressured to join a gang.  I went to a great school with beautiful pieces of artwork and statues everywhere.  I don’t know what it’s like to go to an impoverished school with graffiti everywhere.

But I can empathize with those that have or do.

On the other hand, I do not know what it’s like to put on a uniform to protect people that hate me or want to kill me.  I don’t know what it’s like to think that I may not come home to my family at the end of my shift.  My dad was a cop when I was about 12 or 13.  I never worried about that because we lived in a small town where nothing seemed to ever happen.  The whole idea of mass shootings, riots, and cop killings was very foreign to me growing up in the early to mid-80’s.

But I can emphasize with those that have or do.quote-choice-of-evils-debates-always-produce-extremism-people-choose-what-they-hope-is-the-margaret-atwood-74-15-79

My point is that we have to stop blaming everyone else and look inside to see how each of us individually contribute to the problem.  I don’t consider myself to be a racist but would I feel safe on a dark street with a black man in a hoodie approaching me?  I have to seriously ask myself questions like these.

I know that we must start talking to each other and listening to each other.  Love always wins, but love cannot even begin to win if we don’t start giving love a chance.  It’s the only way.  Stop blaming the other side and realize that it’s not us versus them, it’s just simply us.  We are all humans.  We are all creations of God.  We are all in this thing together.

And yes, we are our brother’s keeper!

For further reading:

Don’t Be the Devil’s Star Witness
Thank God I am not like you! (blog)

Thank God I am not like you! (podcast)

2 Comments On “There is no us vs. them…’s just US!”

  1. Ruth Young

    yes! WE. Well said, Michael, well said.

    • Thanks Ruthie. I have been thinking about how Jesus became flesh to identify with our humanity, and yet we humans cannot identify with our fellow humans. May God answer the prayer of Jesus that we become one.

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