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Thoughts on Right and Wrong
When I was in high school, I spoke at my church and mentioned the growing distrust and disillusionment in the police. Afterwards, a white woman came up to me and lectured me on what she thought I needed to know. (I mention she was white because I think that matters.) She told me Michael Brown was a thug. She told me internet videos of police misconduct were manipulated to show wrongdoing. She told me I had nothing to worry about. Her last comment held validity. As a young, half-Chinese, half-white woman, I don’t worry about personal interactions with the police. I’ve never even been pulled over. I also knew this woman’s daughter was a police officer and she constantly feared for her daughter’s safety.
Lately, all I feel is wrong. I’m failing to adequately protect the health of myself and my family by taking unnecessary risks. I’m failing to support this burgeoning justice movement because of fear. I’m failing to get enough sleep at night. I’m failing to adapt to inevitable (even good) change without wanting everything to just go back to normal.
Everywhere I turn, everyone has an opinion about right and wrong.
Some say, “They are right to protest, but they are doing it the wrong way.”
Others, “Peaceful protests are good, but nobody pays any attention without violence.”
Some,“The police were wrong to kill George Floyd, but the system is not racist. This was just one bad apple.”
Others, “The justice system is built to hurt black people. The only solution is to burn it down.”
When everything started, I was full of opinions too.
Institutional racism is wrong.
Looting is wrong.
Knees on necks are wrong.
Violent protests are wrong.
Protesting at the expense of public health is wrong.
Or maybe the world is filled with more complexities than I am willing to admit in my brief judgements. Since when was this about being right or identifying what is wrong? I often forget that the commandments do not include, “You shall win your argument at all costs.”
I can see Jesus in a crowd of protestors, getting tear gassed, abused, and hurt. Maybe he would even flip some tables to prove how our institutions have failed to ensure justice. Maybe he would preach about turning the other cheek.
I can also see Jesus dining with convicted police officers. He would understand their fears and struggles. Maybe he would show them how true power comes when you wash the feet of others, or when you serve those more vulnerable.
Now, in the chaos, all I see is brokenness, not absolute dichotomies, not black and white.
I’ve tried to stop asking myself, “Is this right?” And instead look inside and look around. Here are some questions I’ve been reflecting on.
How have I participated and uplifted institutional racism?
How can I better listen to and understand the African American experience in the U.S.?
How can I actively become a less racist person?
How can I love all my neighbors?
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