"...mourn with those who mourn." -Romans 12:15b
"Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." - I John 3:18
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
This past weekend, violence again broke out in our nation because of hatred and intolerance toward people because of the color of their skin. Social media is exploding with grief and frustration and rightly so. We should be outraged that people continue to hurt others and propagate racist ideologies; we should never stand by idly while this occurs.
But we can't just stop with jumping on the bandwagon on discontentment, either. The automatic response to tragedy on social media is to post and stand in solidarity with whatever group is grieving; there is nothing wrong with that. But what will you do with the pain past the computer and the phone and the social media account?
How will you allow what is happening in your heart to affect your actions?
We teach our children about knowledge and how we want them to be, but we should also teach them about ignorance and what we do not want them to be like. These lessons shape worldviews and, in turn, our world. Because ignorance like racism needs to be addressed by parents, educators, and clergy in active, responsible, motivating ways.
Conversations about uncomfortable topics and terrible examples of humanity are more than just worthy of grief; they are worthy of discussion and educational opportunities.
I'm praying that out of the mess made, seeds of change will be planted in fertile soil. If you influence a child or any member of the younger generation, talk to them about #Charlottesville. Let them see the pictures and ask questions. Talk to them about the Civil Rights Movement and the Freedom Riders. Explain the difference between peaceful protest and some of the mess from protests that ended in rioting and looting. Talk to them about the history of the Nazi movement and the millions that died due to the pervasiveness of hatred.
Talk to them about what it means to selflessly love those around them, especially those they disagree with or feel frustrated with. Teach them to love their enemies and stand up for others. Discuss with them what goes through their minds when they see someone bullied. Model compassion to those in need in practical ways. This will look different for all of us, but it's in the DOING over the SAYING that things get DONE rather than just talked about.
My first experience with racism happened when I was a fourth grader, at the hands of another fourth grader.
Don't limit your grief and frustration to social media outrage; use it to fuel your motivation to create change where you can.
Pray like you have never prayed, and then ask for wisdom to stand and speak, perhaps like you have never stood and spoken.