Black Lives Matter
Indigenous Lives Matter
Lives of People of Colour Matter
The world has been a challenging thing to make sense of over the past year.
So many things and events have caused turmoil, confusion, consternation, debate (both civil and not-so-civil), and even violence. We are now into at least month number 14 of the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the physical health implications and the social restrictions of the pandemic, we have experienced debate over various conspiracy theories that question the reality of the pandemic. The presidential election in the United States provided many flashpoints of political and social division that resonated for many people here in Canada – on both ends of the political spectrum. And, not the least but just the last I will mention in this list, is the renewed racial upheaval that originated in the U.S. but spilled over into Canada and other parts of the world.
Perhaps the most significant incident of that racial upheaval in the last year was the death of George Floyd as he was being taken into police custody in Minneapolis. The trial of the police officer involved has just concluded this week with a guilty verdict on three different charges of murder. The positive public response to that verdict is in stark contrast to the demonstrations in response to his death that often devolved into violence in the streets of many American cities.
For this week I have brought back the banner at the top of this letter that I had used for these messages through most of last year and into the first few weeks of this year. This is a reminder that, regardless of that verdict, there is still much work to be done by all of us on the racial reconciliation front.
Over the last year I have been disturbed by the stories told by Black persons, Indigenous persons, and other Persons of Colour, of the discrimination that they face regularly, if not daily, in just going about the normal activities of a life in Canada. This should be disturbing to all of us and all of us should be evaluating our own actions and reactions when in any kind of interactions with persons who have a different appearance than us.
I feel it is also important to say that I have been equally disturbed by the threatening disrespect that has been experienced by members of police organizations across North America. This has been in response to the high-profile situations of interactions – often violent and sometimes fatal – between the police and persons of colour. There are undoubtedly aspects of police work and police culture that need review and reform.
Meanwhile, those responsible for the negative interactions are a small proportion of the total police community. Most police officers want to do the right thing for all members of the communities they serve. Just as all of us as “civilians” need to do better in our interracial interactions, we need to support our police as they strive to do better too.
The curse of systemic racism that exists in many of society’s structures, systems, and organizations cannot be eradicated overnight. It is up to all of us to recognize it when we see it and to do what we can to work for positive reform.
The last year, indeed, has been a challenging time in the world. Historically, the world often has only gotten better when it has come through such challenging times. Typically, the world has gotten better when its citizens have insisted that their leaders do better and then demonstrate by example the changes they wish to have happen. May we all work towards, and look forward to, our future better world.
In closing let me add that I am sensitive that some readers may not be happy to have worldly or political situations highlighted in a Community of Christ newsletter or blog. I believe that the teachings of Jesus as recorded in scripture insist that we: bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, and let the oppressed go free. (see Luke 4: 18, 19). To me, these characteristics describe the experiences and life situations of many persons in the Black, Indigenous, and other Persons of Colour communities. Surely, we are called to help remedy them. I will leave it at that lest I get into a much longer sermon. Please contact me if you have concerns or questions.
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of joy, hope, love, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President
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