“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” – William Wilberforce
One year ago today, I wearily posted the following quote said by Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, anticipating the end of the presidential election season: “How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
Whether you were relieved with the outcome of the election at this time last year or devastated by it, all us of have seen things since that revealed the great darkness within us, within our leaders, within this nation.
I sat next to a Mexican family on my bus with tears streaming down their face the day after the election. I read countless stories of wounds made and wounds revealed. I prayerfully and carefully shared my thoughts and had angry and untrue words said to me by a person I never have even met on a social platform originally created as a place to foster connection, not fuel the flames of hatred.
Oh, but I saw so much more.
Of the little I saw and experienced, it was nothing compared to the stories and scars others now bear from this year. If you’ve come think this year was a fine one for humanity as a whole, I’m afraid to say that I don’t think you were paying enough attention.
I have seen things I cannot unsee, and I now know that I have a responsibility. We all do. We can continue to live like we did before, hoping the world will go back to the way it was before. We can hope that someone we elected last year or someone we’ll elect in 2020 will restore the vision we have for this country, for our communities, for our lives. We can tell ourselves that this too shall pass.
But as others lay visibly hurt, as the broken pieces of our country lay scattered before us, we can proceed with the words of Martin Luther King in mind, words he wrote from a jail cell. “We are bound in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
The world cannot go back to the way it was before, and yes and amen to that because the darkness that has been brought to our attention this year was long overdue, and with humbleness may I say needed.
This year, I have witnessed the events that have transpired and taken away these thoughts:
Justice is defective.
Corruption is thriving.
Solutions are needed, yet fleeting.
But hope is not lost.
I have seen great darkness, great tragedy, great horrors, but I have also seen people humbly acknowledge their shortcomings and embrace a life of advocacy. These people are good listeners, they are gray-area dwellers, they are merciful and believe in the potential of every human and every moment. They do not look away from the darkness in themselves and in the world, but face it. They are brave.They are empowered, emboldened, empathetic, open-handed people.
I want to be like them.
For many of us, this year interrupted an easiness of life. And to that I say, I’m thankful for the interruption. As a speaker I was just listening to asserted, “Jesus is the interruptor of violence. On the cross he puts death on display and he triumphs over it with grace and love and mercy.”
May things never go back to the way they used to be. Lord have mercy. Yes and amen.