Given the Facebook posts I’ve seen this week…I may get some flack for this post. Boy oh boy…people have had some opinions this week. Strong ones. To think that I just visited my old neighborhood in Baltimore just two weeks ago and this week so much has happened. I lived in Southwest Baltimore so it wasn’t at the heart of the protests, but there were some fires there on Monday night.
As I was watching the news coverage, I was filled with a lot of emotions. I would say the first being anger. Angry that people would act in such a violent way. As I watched what seemed like hundreds of people looting a CVS store, it was just so surreal. I felt like I was watching a movie…not something that was occurring in real life. But the longer I watched the live news feed on my television, the more I was overcome with compassion.
It is easy for me to sit in my house in the suburbs and judge what is going on in the city. It’s also wrong.
I realized that I have NO CLUE what it’s like for the people living in this part of the city…
I have NO CLUE what it’s like to be a police officer working in the city…
And I have NO CLUE what it’s like being a leader making decisions in very stressful situations in the city.
I do know that there are families that have to choose whether or not they feed their kids, pay their rent, or pay their utility bill each month. I know that there is a system that fails them countless times.. I know that there are issues passed down from generation to generation. And I can imagine how hard it is to not feel desperate, hopeless, defeated…over and over and over again. Just like I can imagine how difficult it must be to be a police officer trying to keep the community safe, as well as themselves, and how they must get frustrated when they see people they arrest right back out on the streets again.
I’m not making excuses for the rioters or the police brutality that happens. Both obviously are wrong.
I do know, however, that the hateful dialogue that was going on in social media will not help the situation. I was ashamed of what I was seeing. We need to learn to listen. We need to learn empathy. And most importantly we need to remember that everyone deserves love…period.
Sometimes things need to break down in order to be rebuilt. Baltimore has been here before. I hope we are learning. But more importantly I hope the leaders of Baltimore can stop for a moment and let the citizens of Baltimore know that they are:
Their struggles do not disqualify them from love…
And that they have something to offer.
For ways to get involved, check out what Somebody Cares Baltimore is doing.
Love your neighbor as yourself…even when you disagree with them…because love matters.
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You show yourself time and time again as a person after God’s own heart.