Covid-19 has been disproportionately deadly to populations already struggling to survive. Especially, but not only, Black Americans. The blatant killing of yet another Black citizen is pushing us to the brink of chaos.
I’ve spent the last few days listening to and reading responses to our current situation. Today I’m passing along a few notes, and the link above to Pastor Charles Montgomery’s excellent discussion this morning. It’s well worth watching.
Pastor Montgomery begins with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s question: Where do we go from here: chaos or community? (The title of his last book before his assassination in 1968)
If we want to understand what’s happening today, Pastor Montgomery suggests we begin with three reasons for our current chaos.
- polarization caused by fear
- politics fueled by anger (and driven by fear)
- radicalization inflamed by injustice, real or perceived
These three tensions are pulling at the fabric of our nation. Trying to tear us apart.
What’s the alternative? Choosing not to live in fear, but to love God and one another.
This echoes the question Jesus asked one of the religious elite, and then answered with a story-question, Who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:25-37). The unexpected answer: The Samaritan who dared to stop and become the neighbor of a Jewish man beaten up, left to die on the side of a road, and bypassed by the religious elite. Go thou, says Jesus, and do likewise.
The Samaritan got involved. Not out of sympathy, but moved by empathy. He understood what it was like to be ignored, belittled, or even left dying on the side of the road.
Furthermore, he didn’t waste any time. He used what he had at hand, and did what he could until this man was healed.
If I want to be like the Samaritan, Rev. Montgomery suggests I ask myself questions like these:
- What captures my attention when I see someone different who’s in trouble? What’s the first thought that goes through my mind?
- Who are my friends? Not just at church, but in my neighborhood, on Facebook or WordPress.
- With whom do I talk? What do I read? (Or do I cocoon myself in a ‘safe’ small world?)
Distance is a barrier to peace. Empathy comes close to pain without minimizing, ignoring, dismissing, or questioning the other person’s character. It remains present, asks questions, offers support, prays, dresses wounds, uses what it has at hand.
Empathy doesn’t try to fix the situation. Take charge. Pontificate. Or ignore.
Please pray for us, and for millions of others in similar situations.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 June 2020
Video posted on Facebook.com