Thursday, September 22, 2016

Charlotte

For the most part, I try to avoid politics and current events.  I find them frustrating, and I'm not in a position to cause change.  I hate the political ads, both sides, hate the corruption and lies that have become accepted of our president (and those running).  I've seen various posts and articles about the police shootings and have been so frustrated with the ignorance and hate, again on both sides.  I've experienced it all with a certain amount of distance and callous.  If I can't change it, why bother investing?  What a terrible attitude!

All that changed with Charlotte.  I still consider that city to be my home.  I birthed my 4 children there, left my daughter's memory there, and spent 7 years of my life there.  I imagine it will be home for quite some time.  It's always been a mixture of so many different backgrounds, mostly transplants, never a true "Southern" city in the way my hometown Charleston was.

When I think back on my life, I know I worked hard to achieve my goals.  I studied hard in college, forgoing parties.  I started classes 5 days a week at 8 am, held various part time jobs, worked full time in the summers, and earned a full scholarship based on my grades.  I went my entire college career until 21 without alcohol, never did drugs, and spent many nights in the library.  I applied to grad school without any connections, did my interviews, and started my journey to becoming a PT.  I studied hard throughout grad school until I graduated with my doctorate.  If you had asked me then, I'd say that my race played no role in my achievements.  And to some extent, that was true.  But...

I grew up in a home where I believed in myself.  I was given every opportunity to succeed in life - a stable home with 2 parents, a stay at home mom who was involved in our daily lives (maybe too involved???).  I grew up feeling safe and loved and secure.  I am only beginning to realize how much that played a role in where I am today.  I knew, no matter what, that my parents loved me.  And, within that security, I flourished.  But not everyone has that.  Not everyone is safe at home.  I can only imagine what that does to confidence.  Andrew helped tutor a young boy in Charlotte, a little black boy who was raise by a single mother doing the best she knew, whose teachers were indifferent to downright hateful and discouraging.  What if that had been my environment?  Suddenly things get a bit harder...

I can't pretend I know what it would be like to be black.  I can't quote MLK and expect to even begin to understand the struggle.  I will teach my kids that the law enforcement is there to protect and serve, because that is what I know.  I don't even flinch when I see a cop (unless I'm speeding....and then I hold my breath for a second).  I fully expect that cop to protect me, to have my back, to have the backs of those around me.  And I expect my children will grow up with the same viewpoint.  But...what if I was taught the cops had it out for me.  What if I was taught I had to protect myself from the cops?  It doesn't seem like that is the situation Charlotte is currently facing, but suddenly things are taking on a new light.  I would hate that for  my boys, for them to live in fear of walking down the street at night.  But, what makes it better?  How do we overcome??  There are corrupt cops for sure, but not all of them.  And my heart just breaks for the protesters, for the anger they feel, the unforgiving rage.  It becomes more than just a black and white thing.  The system is broken, but this is not the way to fix it.

So, what does fix it?  Or rather, who?  The answer...Jesus.  Forgiveness.  Violence is not nearly as powerful as love and forgiveness found in Christ.  The shootings in a Charleston church, (maybe last year or early this year??) offer a wonderful example of that.  I was so proud of my hometown, of how the entire community came together to support the victims and FORGIVE the shooter.  The love of Christ was so evident following that incident that it quickly lost press.  THAT is how we handle things.  It seems the Charlotte shooting was clean - though facts are still coming through - that a black cop shot a black man because he had a gun.  Some new evidence may come through in the coming days, but until then, these protests seem to be fueled by pure rage.  There can be no racial drive, as the cop who did the shooting was also black.  Was the man who was shot simply scared for his life based on the police presence?  Maybe.  But what are we trying to accomplish by protesting, rioting, and shutting down the interstate?  The way to get people, to get the police force to understand and truly listen, is NOT by throwing a temper tantrum.  As a mom, I know that to be true - only makes me not listen, and in this case, only reinforces whatever prejudice is driving cops to be fearful.  Charlotte...do better.

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