I am not a police officer nor am I not a black man. There are less than 400 black people in our entire county of over 100,000 so I don’t even see a black person most days—but if you think that the police shootings involving African Americans is not my problem, you are wrong.
I don’t want my kids growing up in a world where people are judged by their appearance and, I don’t want them growing up in a world that perpetuates a cycle of bigotry and division because people feel making a stance for something means that you are automatically making a stand against something.
Blue lives matter. Black lives matter. Terence Crutcher’s life mattered.
You know, I’ve thought about writing about the shooting of black men by police for a while but because of the woeful lack of credentials I mentioned, and the fact that I don’t want to offend anyone, and the fact that I am totally clueless about any practical steps to stop these terrible things from happening, I haven’t.
But, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So while I am just a woman with a computer, I am going to use this platform to try and do something.
And what I want to do is encourage you to de-camp from Camp Black Lives Matter or Camp Blue Lives Matter and instead seek out someone who feels differently than you, whose thoughts and ideas on the matter makes you uncomfortable and listen to them; don’t sit there looking at them waiting to hear something you can disagree with or defend, just listen. When they speak of the hurt and anger and fear they feel, do not justify and explain—listen.
And, this is the hard part, but after you’re done listening, stay silent. One of our biggest problems in communication is that we expect others to show us the same curtesy that we have shown them and when they don’t, we get angry and defensive again. But sometimes, people aren’t ready to listen, and that’s okay, as long as you are.
If you feel like me, like you can’t possibly help this situation or change the injustices that we read about almost daily, I implore you: just listen.
The whole point of our listening to someone with whom we disagree is to understand them---not to be understood ourselves. That may come in time, hopefully it does, but we as a country are so divided and entrenched on our “sides” that the first step to breaking down this barrier is humbling ourselves enough to hear someone present an opinion with which we disagree and respect them enough to not force our own agenda on them.
People are hurt and scared and upset and now is not the time to show them why they are wrong or why you too feel victimized—that only exacerbates the problem.
Instead, listen. Learn about your neighbor, because when you learn about someone, you are able to understand them, and when you can understand them, even if you don’t agree with them, you can love them.