Waking up in the Twin Cities this morning, I’m left with a list of things I don’t understand, many that I never will.
I’ll never understand what it feels like to worry about your son when he leaves home because of the color of his skin. That’s a reality that I’ll never face, and yet so many do.
I’ll never be able to understand what that mom or dad feels like, watching an explicit video that captures their child’s life (yes, a grown man) being snuffed out on the street. That’s a reality that I’ll never face, and yet so many do.
I’ll never understand what it feels like to experience the ugly face of racism personally. That’s a reality that I’ll never face, and yet so many do.
I’ll never be able to understand what life as a police officer feels like – what faces them as they go to work each day and how their loved ones feel as they walk out the door. That’s a reality that I’ll never face, and yet so many do.
I’ll never understand the anger and helplessness that compels people to burn and loot – to destroy their communities from the inside out. That’s a reality that I’ll never face, and yet so many do.
I’ll never understand the feeling of being the business owner who walks into their burned-out, glass-broken, shelves-empty property – the endeavor they’ve poured their lives into – to find it destroyed. That’s a reality that I’ll never face, and yet so many do.
There are so many things I will never understand – so many lenses to look at this through.
My point in writing this is to spotlight empathy – acknowledging that we will never fully understand what it feels like to step into someone else’s shoes, but being willing to try. It’s acknowledging our need to invest energy into understanding, working to understand, and seeking to understand.
The emotions that are flowing through the Twin Cities right now are so raw; the edge is so sharp and the tension is so high. And on the other side of that, the hurt is so real, the hopelessness is so palpable, and the sadness is so undeniable.
Our experiences as a community are so different from person to person to person. Those differences threaten to divide us. They threaten to tear us apart, which is what is happening in front of us right now. And until we make empathy our go-to, that will continue.
We need to make a shift.
From “I” to “us”…
From “me” to “we”…
Like I said in the beginning, there are so many pieces of this that I don’t understand. But, in the midst of what I can’t comprehend, I come back to this simple verse, the words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Whether you’re Christian or not, today is a time for us to be truly radical – to stretch our definition of who our neighbor is, and to love them unconditionally.
As you read that, if you shrugged “love” off as soft, I would challenge you to dig deeper into the strength it takes to love someone who isn’t like you. Someone who hurt you. Someone who offended you. Someone who believes differently than you. There is nothing soft in loving like that. It’s hard, but that’s the challenge we face as a community right now.
Today, let’s love each other through this.