When one man gets shot, when five police get targeted by a sniper, when a baby dies from gun violence, we all hurt. It happens to us all. As people of faith, there are helpful places we can go.
We can turn toward lament, knowing God can withstand our anger and pain:
Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; Incline Your ear to me; In the day when I call answer me quickly. –Psalm 102:1-2
We can crack open our Bibles and read, yet again, about the life of Jesus. We can see with eyes anew how he dissolved boundaries and worked for peace and saw the dignity in all people, challenging us to do the same.
As a person of faith, I also know I need to continue to explore my own white privilege. I am called to see it, name it, and work toward being actively anti-racist in my day. For encouragement, and guidance, we can turn toward the US Catholic Bishop’s Letter on Racism from 1979 (!). It still rings true in 2016. The whole letter is helpful, but allow me to include a few quotes here:
Racism is an evil which endures in our society and in our Church. Despite apparent advances and even significant changes in the last two decades, the reality of racism remains. In large part it is only external appearances which have changed.
Racism and economic oppression are distinct but interrelated forces which dehumanize our society. Movement toward authentic justice demands a simultaneous attack on both evils.
Indeed, racism is more than a disregard for the words of Jesus; it is a denial of the truth of the dignity of each human being revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation.
God’s word in Genesis announces that all men and women are created in God’s image; not just some races and racial types, but all bear the imprint of the Creator and are enlivened by the breath of His one Spirit.
We can read The New Jim Crow, Between the World and Me, Walking With the Wind, or I Have a Dream, just to name a few, and watch Color of Fear, Eyes on the Prize, or 4 Little Girls. We can identify where in our lives we have power and skills and use them for good. Do you have the power of free time to show up at a peaceful protest? Are you a voter in a place that could benefit from some policy change? As a mom, as a teacher of youth, as a writer I can tap into my power. I can commit to spending more time being uncomfortable, listening, learning, and acting in response to the recent violence.
There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. In this time of mourning, may our faith call us also to act.