Have you ever been in a car that’s running out of gas? the gauge ominously rests flat in the red. You’re sweating with anxiety as you watch the road for a sign of redemption. But there’s no place to pull over. The car jerks as it sucks down the last bit of fuel and vapor… and finally stalls out. Our nation is stalled on the side of the road. The tank has been emptied by weeks and weeks of Covid19. All the sickness, the angst, the stories, the deaths of over 100,000 Americans… How to stay safe. How to protect others. When to wear a mask. What about gloves? Who can you hug? And what about opening up businesses again? What are the rules? And if that were not enough to deplete the gas tank, there’s the unemployment numbers. Then: the murder of George Floyd. I watched the bystander video shortly after it was released. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: a brazen acting out of the awful legacy of racism in our country. No amount of cheering, “USA! USA!” will drown out a grown man’s cry for his mother as he is being tortured and killed by men in uniforms and badges. What a terribly hard week it has been… the cloud of smoke from protests turned to riots turned to violence and looting mixes with the cloud of pain and sadness that hovers above our nation.
We are stalled on the side of the road. And we can’t call for roadside assistance. No one is coming to save us. The profound lack of leadership and the even more appalling lack of empathy from Washington, force us to find our way forward. We are the ones who must decry racism and its deep hold on a segment of our nation. We are the ones who must acknowledge the extent to which Black lives have not and do not matter. We are the ones who must decide what the future looks like and how we’ll get back on the road. Yvonne Abraham recently wrote a fabulous, informative op-ed piece in the Globe. She reminds us that we are all disgusted by the vandalism and looting that occurred in Boston and many other American cities. But if that’s as far as we take it, we will have missed the larger takeaway of this past week. That justice deferred is justice denied. That there is a reckoning, long overdue, that must be acknowledged. We have to move forward in peaceful dialogue. There is no room for defensiveness or name-calling or finger-pointing. This a time for truth, a central pillar of civilization that has been actively assailed and ignored in recent years. We are the ones who must be brave enough to listen to the ways injustice has ruined lives, has taken lives. There’s a lethargy that can set in when stalled by the side of the road. It’s scary and overwhelming. But it’s time to start thinking about what we can do now, how to start pushing ourselves in a new direction, and there find the fuel of compassion and understanding. We’ll figure out how we can do our share in this new period in the life of our country. We will all surely lean into our prophetic tradition, to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” There is a better way — let’s find it. rebhayim
Here are some links to investigate. To be continued… Statement from the URJSomeplace to donate fundsStatement of the Anti Defamation LeagueWhat can you do?