The absence of my voice might project that this horrifying display of the wretchedness of human sin was simply not enough to move me to action. The absence of my voice--a white, female, middle class voice--might scream that since these events did not directly impact me that I am excused from acknowledging them, much less dealing with them. The absence of my voice would, in all reality, be my giving consent to allow things like this to continue.
And that I cannot do. I cannot give consent, even tacitly. I cannot ignore. I cannot accept. I cannot pretend that people like this do not live in my neighborhood, go to my church, play on my playgrounds and shop in my grocery stores. I cannot.
But what I can do is add my own voice to the chorus of those standing against racism. Because that is what this is. It is racism. Pure. Simple.
It is a group of people so entrenched in their own pride and selfishness, so accustomed to their own superiority, so insistent that they alone should reign supreme, so consumed with hatred that they are willing to incite violence, to bring harm, to hurt, maim and even kill all who stand against them.
When I allow myself to sit and truly sink into thinking about all that Charlottesville represents, I feel like I am drowning. And so I cannot even begin to fathom what my brothers and sisters of color must be thinking and feeling. What my own son would be thinking and feeling if he was fifteen instead of three.
It is time for us white people to do better. Our fellow human beings, fellow image bearers of the Most High God are being attacked because of the color of their skin, a color that same God designed. It is not enough for us to shake our heads and say, "How awful." It is not enough for us to make jokes aimed at white supremacists. It is not enough to change our profile pictures on Facebook and quote Dr. King.
We have to start looking at people the way Jesus looks at us. With love and compassion. With arms open wide. We have to start living the way God commands us to in His Word. What if the white Christian church did that? What would change? Everything would. God's banner over us is love. Let that be what identifies us to the world. Not this racial elitism that threatens to destroy anything in its way.
Let us live like we believe that Jesus died and rose again for all mankind, not just those who look like we do. Let us live in such a way that our children learn to love the way Jesus did, recklessly. And when our leaders fail to call out racism, let us be bold enough to step into the gap and speak the truth in their stead.
I'll finish with a quote from a hero of mine, Elie Wiesel. Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor. He lived through deportation to Auschwitz and was eventually liberated from Buchenwald. I had the privilege of teaching his beautiful memoir Night for all of my eight years in the classroom. At the end of the text, his publishers included his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. It is incredibly compelling, and I always made sure my classes took time to read it and discuss its importance.
The words I have included below shake me every time I read them. There is so much truth here. Truth and a call to action. A call to respond.
And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever
human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
We must take sides.
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Sometimes we must interfere.
When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.
Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.
May we have the courage to interfere.