Conviction is a powerful thing.
I can no longer be that arrogant or hypocritical.
Somewhere between Trayvon and Charleston I used the All Lives Matter and the Black Lives Matter hashtag together.
But I soon stopped.
Because I cannot blatantly tell such a boldface lie.
I do not live like all lives matter.
How do I know?
Because I buy products made by child laborers in China, I eat in restaurants with undocumented workers paid a less than living wage, I have an empty bedroom in my home that could house foster children or a homeless friend, I mock people who think differently than me, my children go to schools where the teachers are underpaid, and I shop in a store that thinks women shouldn’t be given fair health care.
#BlackLivesCame about because none of us actually live as if all lives matter.
If we as a country, or as Christians, or humanity, lived, loved, respected and cared for each other as if we believed all lives mattered then we wouldn’t kill, beat, hang, cheat, dismiss, mock, ridicule, sell, and abuse each other.
But we do those things.
And some of us do those things to certain lives more than others. Which is why the cry of anger and fear and hurt has become so deafening.
So maybe the way we start living as if all lives matter is to start by loving and caring for and protecting the most abused, the most cheated, the most often of those who are beaten, killed, and mocked.
I also no longer use the ALM hashtag because the way I live, the words I use send a message to my children, my friends, and my community about what is most important to me. And if I dismiss or minimize the cries of my neighbors, if I assert my experience as the only truth, if I ignore their pleas for justice, then the message I am sending is that my life is centered around ME and my comfort.
As a Christian I believe that the greatest commandments are to Love God and to Love My Neighbor.
Which I believe, means I should live a life that revolves around loving God and loving my neighbor. Even when it is uncomfortable or awkward.
If one of my neighbors is hurting, then I need to speak love and give aid to that neighbor in their language – not mine. I need to express love in the way that meets them where they are, not in the way that is easy or even makes the most sense to me. It is not my heart that needs tending.
Is this not the message of Pentecost? Did the Holy Spirit fall so that those worshiping would understand each other better? Or so that those outside would hear of God’s love in their own tongue?
Continuing to use the ALM hashtag would be like refusing the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Black Lives Matter is not my native tongue. But it is the language of my neighbor.
And maybe we start by speaking the language of the marginalized and oppressed, inviting the Holy Spirit back into our midst, like the day of Pentecost, letting go of the language we know, for the language of our hurting friends saying loudly that Black Lives Matter.
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