Growing up in Southern California I became used to living an unsettled way of life. While early in my life I was accustomed to fire drills, moving to California exposed me to a drill and disruption, earthquake drills. Periodically in my public and private school life the alert sounded to get under the desk.
These drills and posturing one’s self in the fetal position did not become real until I finally experienced the rolling of my home during an earthquake. It is quite an event to feel the ground under your feet roll or the building you stand in move with reverberation. There is movement. There is sound. Then all is still and quiet.
Earthquakes shake you out of a sense of normalcy. The life you understood as being solid, static, and serene, offers you very little confidence moving forward. There are earthquakes which cause you to pause for a moment and then there are those movements which challenge your very life existence.
I reflect on my own life to cultivate sympathy for my Caucasian brothers and sisters in America. Their life, no your life, has been founded on some very explicit and implicit understandings about life. The road you have walked on for generations is a pavement which affirms and holds up as the standard, Caucasian life. Explicitly, we have seen in our public school education the dominance of Caucasian males as the center of leadership in the public and private sectors. You have learned explicitly this country began as an act of rebellion and protest due to taxation, military occupation of homes, and unjust acts of a sovereign. Implicitly, after the securing of freedom in 1776, every sphere of this country’s existence framed itself in extolling the virtues of your life, judging every other participant as secondary, the minority. I mean even when I attend Church I am reminded Jesus looks like you. Everywhere you go, what you listen to, and yes, the standard of worship is measured against your Caucasian life as the standard.
So I find myself sympathizing with you because I love you. I sincerely believe you are experiencing periodic earthquakes in your lives which are upsetting the normalcy of the Caucasian standard in America. Much like the child in school, I observe your reaction to the tremors and aftershocks is to run and find comfort under a desk which may not hold up at the end of the day. Your reaction is to assume the fetal position and in some cases rage passively or aggressively against those who are simply seeking to secure the promises of democracy.
What earthquakes do I speak about? The Mexican man, woman, or family returning to their ancestral home. The earthquake of voices steadfastly saying that Black Lives Matter. The earthquake of persons of color moving more boldly to assert their dignity as full participants in this democratic experiment called America. The rumblings of the poor in urban areas tired of being used by politicians. These aftershocks which are moving from worship centers to worship centers, your Evangelical Reformed or Baptist voice is not the standard of Christian thought and practice.
So I sympathize with you. I truly do. Love cultivates sympathy. In order to sympathize with a person or group is to imagine yourself in their shoes and love them right there. I sympathize because I know first hand what it means to have my own world shook because of what I look like. I sympathize because in many cases you have been taught wrong or not been taught everything.
There is movement happening in this country. There are sounds of voices yearning to be free. I hope when all is still and quiet you will come up from out of that desk and discover there is a better way of living.