From My Heart To Your Heart: Moving Forward
Dr. Marcus “Goodie” Goodloe is a respected and loved friend of North Church. Goodie preached for us on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in January. He has been a close friend and trusted advisor to Pastor Dave for years. His thoughts on the racial divide in our country today as a follower of Jesus are timely and challenging.
The events of the last week have been spiritually, emotionally, and physically exhausting for me. But it pales in comparison to what others are experiencing. I have been in constant prayer and reflection over those whose lives have been lost, and for those whose spirits are shattered by what is happening to them and in their communities. Yet, as a person of color, I cannot separate my life from theirs. I am part of that pain. I cannot escape it. If you know me, you know my story, and it's filled with many of the same realities that are points of contention we see today: crime, violence, racism, and tensions between police and communities of color, to name a few.
I've spoken to several of my closest friends over the past few days regarding the recent events in the news--from educators, pastors, to business leaders. Many of them have approached me, yearning for insight as to how to be part of the healing and restoration our country so desperately needs. These friends are women and men whom I love, yet who are different from me in so many ways, including the color of their skin. Yet the content of their character and the passions from which they speak are of the highest expressions of faith, hope, and love.
I wanted to take a moment and offer thoughts on things I've encouraged my friends to do and to consider. This is not exhaustive by any means. These ideas are based on and shaped by my faith ( as a follower of Jesus) as well as my own life experience. They're meant to be practical. These ideas are a starting point, and, most importantly, these are things that can be done today, right now. They do not require an act of congress, the efforts of the President, nor do they require immeasurable resources. Too often at times of crisis and contentions, we feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to bring solutions to the table. The danger in this posture is that we do nothing.
The goal of this communication is for me, you, and all people of goodwill...to do something.
These ideas will take courage to execute, however, and intentionality. I'm praying you will move forward to help "Redeem the Soul of Humanity."
Here they are:
Have a Conversation: Talk about the issues that are happening right now: do so around the dinner table or over lunch (with your family and those you love). What are their thoughts? What are you hearing? What do the teachings Jesus offer for such a time as this?
Reach out: Connect to colleagues and friends who are different from you (ethnicity, socio-economic status, life experience, etc.)--and, affirm your admiration, your love, and even your inability to completely understand what they are going through. They need to hear from you! They need your prayers.
Listen: Listen to their story and laments. It's not about you giving answers or being defensive per se, but about letting them know that you are aware of their pain, and that you are not indifferent or oblivious to what they are feeling or have experienced. You are not responsible for all that has happened to them or what's happening per se, but collectively, as humanity, you have a role to play. Listen.
Self examination: One philosopher stated that the longest journey we will ever take, is the one inward. Take a self-inventory of where you are: What are your thoughts and attitudes on the matters in the news today? Do you have the ability to sympathize, and to relate to people who experience things you have not? Do you make the time for such?
Steps: Take steps to correct and confront in love, any and all behaviors that display a lack of respect for a particular group of people based upon what they look like, where they are from, who they love, or the color of their skin. These small acts of justice and advocacy can help to extinguish the flames of racism and bigotry. Such acts of hate do not start off significant. But, like a cancer they metastasize, if left untreated or confronted.
Seek Wisdom: As a person of faith, I firmly believe in the potential and power of prayer. Ask the Transcendent for wisdom, and for a courageous heart and mind to bridge the chasms within your specific community and context in which you live daily. I firmly believe opportunities to show yourself "strong and of good courage" will come if we remain open in word, deed, and amplitude.
Marcus Goodie Goodloe, Ph.D.