Loving My Brother
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
While in treatment for my chemical dependency, I spent a lot of time in therapy together with a group of 10 or 12 guys who got to know each other pretty well. One day, as the group was discussing its encounters with law enforcement, one of the guys recounted his experience of fear, as a black man, being pulled over at night by the police. A few of the other (white) guys dismissed his fear as ridiculous. I kept my mouth shut, but in the moment, I sided with the white opinion. I can’t identify with fear of police. I have a hard time believing that any of my friends in law enforcement could contribute to the kind of experience of which this black man spoke.
The other black men in the group corroborated this experience of fear and the white men in the group largely derided it. This was a Christian treatment center so most of us believed in God and we were all brothers in our addictions. In that moment however, we were divided by skin color. The first man eventually said, You can’t tell me my experience. I had real fear. You can’t tell me how to feel. That struck me. I know personal experience doesn’t necessarily represent factual evidence, but in that moment, I at least attempted to see things from his point of view. He was my brother and I wanted to understand instead of argue.
I know it’s not the same, but in trying to understand Black Lives Matter, I’ve looked to my own experience. I can recall a loved one experiencing what I felt was a grave injustice. In my concern, I went to those responsible and addressed the issue. I didn’t take on bullying as a whole. I addressed the conflict in front of me. At the time, My Loved One Mattered. Does that mean that no one else’s life mattered? No. Of course not. It just meant that I needed to do what I could to correct the wrong that I saw happening to the one I loved.
So, do Black Lives Matter or do All Lives Matter? Our response to that question depends on what we hear when someone says it. If, as white people, we hear that black lives matter more than anyone else’s, and all police are racist, then we’re going to reject the idea. Likewise, when a white person says that all lives matter, if a black person perceives dismissal of historical injustice, then All Lives Matter is seen as racist itself.
Can black lives matter and all lives matter? Of course. The challenge is for us to love everyone as brothers. When one group experiences injustice and feels marginalized, then we should listen and care. Not caring, just because it doesn’t affect us, isn’t brotherly love. It’s discrimination. If we truly follow Christ, then, in love, we must seek to understand one other, caring for each other as our own, regardless of skin color.