On any given day, my daughters will have an argument. This morning, it was over a blanket.
Lily pulled the blanket off Chloe.
Chloe was mad. She said Lily did it purposely because Lily is her older sister and treats her like a baby.
Lily said, no, it was an accident.
Chloe is upset. Because in the past, Lily has treated her like a baby.
Lily refuses to apologize.
Chloe refuses to yield.
Then I make Lily apologize. I make Chloe accept the apology. I am teaching them to forgive and be forgiven, I think. More often, my motivation is peace. I just want peace in my household; a peace that will only arrive if they both acknowledge each others feelings and live in empathy for one another.
Non-factual, non-quanitifiable things like history and feelings and perception and personal truths trump everything else.
Like in Ferguson, where a white cop shot a black kid. It does not matter if that cop was racist or not. The facts, the law, well, those really do not matter either. It is the history of systematic racism, discrimination and inequity in Ferguson and in communities all over the United States that matters. It is the perception of those who have struggled and been treated like less, that matters.
I am white suburban mother. No one will discriminate against me. I'll never be mistaken for a convenience store thief or a gang member. Those things will never, ever happen to me. Those things won't happen to my three children either--my suburban, white privileged children.
However, if I do not teach my children history and empathy, they might be the ones who discriminate. We teach our children everyday to have empathy for their classmates and their siblings. We teach them to respond in compassion when they inadvertently make a mistake. We teach them to everyday to stop whining that things were an "accident" or a "mistake" and to simply, say:
"I sorry. I get it. I hurt you. I will be more careful. I won't do it again. I will learn from it. I understand when you think that, because, well, I have done purposeful mean things before."
I think that cop in Ferguson murdered Michael Brown. You might strongly disagree. You might think he was justified. However, it just does not matter. What matters is that our country has a deep history of racism. If my brothers and sisters of color tell me that are consistently oppressed and discriminated against, I am listening. I am believing their truth. I standing with them and telling the truth.
The truth is not always pretty. It is not something we want to dwell in. The truth is not something we want to admit to ourselves. However, Christ tells us dwelling in truth is the ticket to freedom.
In John 8:31-38, we read about Christ explaining true discipleship to his disciplines
"Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciplines, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
His disciplines ask him what he means by being made free. And he says:
"Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."
Dwelling in the truth and in the light of Christ frees us from sin. Christ calls on us to confess, forgive, be forgiven and try harder the next day. Christ tells us we are sinners. Christ calls on us to accept the truth and say the horrible darkness out loud. We live in a broken, fallen world. This world often feels devoid of everything holy. Children are dying. Racism thrives. Lies cover the light. When we close our ears to the truth, we let the lies grow.
Truth is always uneasy. However, when we open our ears, when we live in empathy, when we apologize without ego, then and only then are we free.