Life can be very difficult sometimes. This past couple of weeks have been living proof of this for me and my family. For some, when confronted by these struggles, they continue to move forward. For others, the burden is too great for them to continue forward. And this is ok.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This does not mean that we cannot stop and gather ourselves first. Rather, it is a call to not stay in that place for too long.
I deal with the difficulty of sitting too long in the dark spaces of my own mind. Far too often, I let the pressure and weight of the world to keep me from moving forward. Also, I allow my mind to look at all the worst possible outcomes of every situation. It is part of my own brokenness and struggle with life.
However, as I am trying to learn myself, I cannot allow myself to stay in those dark places. Darkness will not win. Hate will not overcome our love! And thus, I have to look at the possible positive outcomes even in moments of great darkness.
However, we live in one of the darkest moments in modern history. We see a rise in hate, bigotry and racism. White Privilege is on parade for all to see as if it were a badge of honor. We see the “others” being abused, disenfranchised, and thrown away. Our young people have even found that they can practice racism and bigotry openly with little consequence. As people often cry, “After all, they are only children! Won’t someone please think of the children?”
I am thinking today about the children. All the wonderful children who strive to do the right thing all the time. Not just when the cameras are rolling or when there may be consequences if they don’t behave. I am thinking of all the children of color who have to work extra hard to not get shot by people in the street simply because they are scared of the color of the children’s skin. I am thinking of all the children locked up for crimes they did not commit. The children who will live the rest of their lives in jails because they had a joint in their pocket.
I am thinking of the children at the border snatched from their parents by people acting under our authority. Children who may never see their parents again simply because their parents wanted a better life for their children. The children who braved thousands of miles only to be denied water, food, and proper care at the border.
I think about all the LGBTQ children who are abused by their parents, school teachers, fellow students and by our own government simply because of who they are. Those children denied their right to live as the gender they most closely identify with. The children bullied day in and day out because they love someone of their own gender.
I weep for the children who are now in their tombs. Those children killed by a “good guy with a gun”. Children who died of malnutrition or exposure to the elements at our border detention camps. The children who had their futures removed from them by systems put in place long before their birth or even our births. I weep for those children who were so bullied because they are LGBTQ that they felt the only way out was suicide. I cry for those children whose parents killed them for coming out as gay or trans.
When I find myself in a dark place, I have to remind myself that thanks to my own privilege I will never face many of the things these children face every single day. I will never know discrimination like they do. The police will not come to “investigate” me for being suspicious just because of the color of my skin. I will not have insults of a deeply painful and racist nature thrown at me for just trying to get a cup of coffee or enjoy a public park. I will not be denied service because of the color of my skin or because they can tell I am LGBTQ.
If there was ever a time to take Dr. King’s advice to “keep moving forward,” now is that time! We, as Christians, can no longer remain silent in the face of such great darkness. We must use our voices to speak up against oppression, racism, and bigotry. As the Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers reminded us at the Interfaith MLK Service last week, we must rise up because of the “Fierce urgency of Now!” (https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/blog/the-fierce-urgency-of-now/)
So, take your time to gather yourself and to find your way out of your darkness. But do not remain idle. Keep moving forward. Keep fighting for what is right. And keep holding up your light for the sake of the children!