Define “All”

I am a Presbyterian Minister, and I serve a purple church in a purple denomination. What I mean by that is that we have red and blue, Republican and Democrat in our congregation and in the PCUSA. In normal times that is a gift, and I have marveled and been grateful for the way people who have different opinions have been able to gather together around what they hold in common, the love of Jesus.

Holding that in tension over the last year has proven difficult. For some, I have spoken too much, for others, not enough. Therefore, I need to reiterate in this post the disclaimer that is at the bottom of my site. The thoughts shared here are mine and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the people in my congregation.

I heard a story on the news yesterday that middle school students in my town are being threatened with racist taunts, that all black people should be lynched, burned, skinned alive. MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS. Read that again. MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS.

Perhaps we as people of faith can claim with integrity that all lives SHOULD matter, but I do not believe we can say that all lives DO matter. They don’t. Black lives SHOULD matter. Right now, they don’t.

I have heard again and again variations of the following: He should have listened to the police; he shouldn’t have run; he had a record; he shouldn’t have resisted.

What shall we say now? They should not have come to school? They should not have dared to get an education? How can we look at this and claim everything is okay?

It’s not.

Saying “Black Lives Matter” right now is aspirational, because the reality of so many would indicate this is not true.

I love this country. I had the honor of serving in my 20’s, and worked for nearly two years to get commissioned again at the age of 50. But like anyone I love dearly, I don’t ignore the unhealthy parts of the relationship, but instead call them out, so that we might grow into something better, healthy. We have problems, and we have work to do. Hard, serious work.

In order for us to make sure that ALL LIVES MATTER, we need to acknowledge that right now some don’t (Did I mention MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS?). We need to do the hard work of understanding why and build something better, so that some day that statement might actually be true.

And you know what? That work’s going to suck. It’s going to hurt. And in the end it’s going to be good for all of us. Think peroxide or isopropyl on a wound. Hurts like Hell, but it’s what fights off infection.

All lives SHOULD matter.

May we have the courage to do the hard work to make sure that one day all lives DO matter.

Peace.

Love will win.

8 thoughts on “Define “All”

  1. Patrick thank you for articulating the differences between aspirational and actual. My experience in the last few years makes me feel that we as a community of souls have slid backwards in our love of each other of those we label “them”. It is a soul sucking vortex that grabs us all at the edges and can pull us all through to a future that none of us should want. There is the blatant actions and then the insidious ones….both need to be countered.

  2. Patrick, I have always been grateful for your ability to communicate at a level that is way beyond surface communication. I realize that perhaps not everyone will see the value of this communication. And I must admit that I have not always been “there” either. However, with prayer and Especially education about the historical aspects of how our country has treated blacks, I believe I am beginning to “get” it. Thank you for having the courage to share this!

  3. The perfect message, Patrick. I wonder what the point is looking in the rear-view mirror, to try to undo the past. Understand the past– yes. Change the past? Impossible. To your point, let’s acknowledge that ALL lives do not matter at present and use that to fuel what we do today and tomorrow.

  4. Thank you for being YOU! That “love one another” part of your heart and mind is showing! It’s going to be tough work, but not if it is compared to the pain and suffering Black Americans have already suffered. Let’s get to work! Black Lives Matter! I’m proud to call you my Pastor and Friend!

  5. I have missed your posts! Has it been since May or have I actually missed your posts?
    I couldn’t agree more that all lives should matter but currently they do not. I can’t ignore the feeling I have that we, as a nation, are moving backwards. Racial equality, women’s rights, hell… human rights, loving they neighbor, judging not, all moving backward.
    Thank you for your thoughts. Now, as Christians, how do we start a discussion that gets us moving forward again? If you know how, count me in!

  6. Once again I find your words both a comfort and a call to action, and ironically in this situation (did I use ironic correctly?) to do something that isn’t going to be comfortable. I am running into young males (2nd-4th graders) that are saying things similarly disturbing but in a sexist manner. It has been a tough conversation but luckily once having the conversation with them it has helped to foster a change in them and their classrooms. I am hopeful and grateful for those who have the skills to work with their parents and other “mentors” of these young people (not my wheelhouse). I’m also grateful for leaders like you that inspire us to have these tough conversations and remind us to have the faith that it will be worth the temporary discomfort on the other end.

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