The Tragedy in Missouri

By Glenda | November 25, 2014

Missouri riots bbc pic _76991219_76991218

The gift of age can be to have a long view of things, allowing one to assess current events in the light of one’s history.

The present tragedy in race relations, unfolding before our eyes on television, reminds me so much of the 1960’s during the upheaval of the civil rights movement. This similarity sometimes causes me to feel hopeless, given that these deep wounds remain so unhealed.

However, as painful as it is to see that prejudices and outrages and terrible reactive behaviors endure, disastrous as ever, I am brought up short when I see that the president who is coming on television to comment on the situation is black, agony in his face, to be sure, but president he is, the president of all the people on all sides of this situation.

That, in itself, is an amazing thing that, though it is obviously not enough of a change, is, indeed, something that, frankly, in the 1960’s, I wouldn’t have believed could have happened by now. We have, in fact, made amazing progress, and so I can bring myself to believe that a better future is yet possible.

Recognizing all this, I myself have taken time overnight to face my own inner demons that want to hold absolute one-sided judgments, to condemn, to imagine revenge—all in an attitude of righteous indignation.

Indignation may be appropriate. But age has taught me, if anything, that righteousness is a state more imagined than realized by most humans, including me, and, further, that recognizing the absolute “right” and therefore the righteousness in any situation is a many-faceted thing, requiring an all-seeing clarity that is beyond most of our abilities to encompass.

The actions of every individual in Missouri and anywhere else is likely a product of the shaping of genetics, environment, and the randomness of life itself. If I were in the life scape of any one of those individuals I would better understand why they are doing or have done what they do. It behooves me to be humbly attentive to my own demons inside, while, certainly, at the same time, doing all I can to establish everywhere peace, tolerance, justice, etc.

Whatever one’s opinion, on either or all sides of the situation in Missouri, we all must surely feel a need to bind up the wounds, to heal the injured, to right the wrongs, to embrace true justice with mercy, to practice forgiveness—even self forgiveness—and, certainly, to work to make the agencies of our government and our laws ever closer to the service of peace and freedom everywhere.

It is true that observing the long span of history teaches us much. Part of what it teaches us is to take time to be gentle, with ourselves, with others, even with whatever we refer to as “God.”

There is work to be done, good work, important work. Let us not waste our energies in adding fuel to the fires of intolerance by our own proclamations or actions, however momentarily gratifying they may feel.

May we use our energies instead in immediate constructive actions for good, especially in the arenas in which we ourselves live, surrounded by serious issues that beg for our commitments to the betterment of the world.

May the peace that passes understanding be with you this day, and always.

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