Blood cries out

July 11th, 2016

This article was first published by Ministry Matters in July 2016.

Beloved in Christ Jesus:

Above everything else I want to remind you that today and all days you and all people and persons are beloved children of God. I want to quickly add that the truth that we are beloved is not a guarantor that we will consistently act out of belovedness. Across the last ten days I have wondered if we have been condemned to an endless cycle of violence or to awaken every morning not from a nightmare but to a new nightmare of gun violence, bombings, carnage and death. The short litany: Istanbul, Bangladesh, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas. God knows we had not recovered from the insanity of Orlando.

Behind every one of these tragedies are real human beings, body and soul. They have names, stories and families to whom they did not return one night or one morning. Kyrie eleison.

In the Book of Genesis chapter 4 verse 10 we find these words “And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” Surely we can hear the blood of our sisters and brothers crying out from the ground now, can’t we? But maybe we can only hear the blood curdling cry if we choose to see everyone as sister, brother. Our refusal to embrace a shared humanity renders us both deaf and blind relationally. Friends, whatever package we are in and whatever uniform we wear for work we are connected, related and when at our best interdependent. Christe eleison.

So we will run our usual drill of shock, horror, grief, vigils, prayer, rallies, political posturing, etc., until the news cycle tells us that something else is more important. But we must do more — we must act. We can and should do all of the above but act we must. It has been said that behavioral change often happens when the pain of change is perceived as less than the pain of staying the same. To coin a cliché, “are we there yet?” I hope and pray that we are so. I am no prophet but it is clear that we cannot go on like this and have, much less offer, the abundant life we proclaim if we will not act on what we know and believe. Kyrie eleison.

I refuse to believe that we are hopeless or abandoned. But failure to act courageously will only reinforce the perception that we are. We must act now:

  • To change every conversation until it bends us and the world to not only acknowledging a shared humanity but embracing it;
  • To remove the scales from our eyes that hinder our seeing the connections between race, religion, poverty and violence;
  • To change legislative conversations so that we get common sense solutions;
  • To change our vocabulary, not merely tone down our rhetoric.

You have heard me say before that guilt and shame immobilize us from real action. Don’t go down that road. But do not say you prayed about it and that is all that you can do. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said regarding the carnage of another era when blood was crying out from the earth “We are not all guilty but we are all responsible.” Let’s seize our shared capacity to respond in real ways in real time. Lord help us if you please.

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