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Protestors demonstrating down West Florissant Ave/LoavesofBread Photo

How to help Ferguson: “Stop watching TV and get to work”

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[todaysdate]

By Andy CastroLang

I have been stomping around my house, impotent, angry and fearful.

Ferguson verdict is in. There is fire and smoke in the city of Ferguson. Burning and looting. All the TV stations are showing it to us.

What am I supposed to think? How shall I feel? How shall I process this event, in the long series of events of violence, and murder, hurt and heartbreak? In our violently polarized society, as a pastor, what shall I do?

Well, immediately, I am invited to be an angry partisan. Protest, wear black, carry candles.

But, will it work? Will it help? Can it possibly heal?

Yes, and No.

It may be the only way to voice our outrage, our pain at the loss of our children, our sons, our daughters. We must do something that does not muzzle our sorrow, must we take it to the streets?

Or, might this only deepen the anger, the fear,  the fight or flight instinct in many of us…we will push back because somehow we sense chaos at the door, danger in the face of the stranger on our street, violence in every future encounter?

No, oh no! Surely not a world where every stranger is a fearful other? Where only the members of your own tribe can protect you? Surely not that ancient, small and violent, blood soaked world?

I feel Ferguson pressing on me; to protect and to hide, to fear and to forsake others.

It cannot be this way. It must not be this way. We have worked hard, and I believe, we must continue to try.

Against despair. Against hate. There is no other way, except the path of opening to the stranger, of accepting the hurt of the other, of enveloping in love, the despair of the world.

I know. It doesn’t sound very impressive, or powerful. But nothing else, NOTHING ELSE is working. Love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, kindness and mercy. These are the only tools that work, to blunt the destruction we see in Ferguson…and around the world.

Work with them. Stop watching the TV and go to work, with them. Love and compassion, justice forgiveness, kindness and mercy. NOTHING ELSE works.

About Andy CastroLang

Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of SpokaneFaVS since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.

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7 comments

  1. Andy, thank you writing down what you were feeling as this news came in, and for sharing those feelings with the FAVS community!

  2. Andy do you think there is a place for burning and looting? Why or why not?

    • Eric; anger poured out in burning and looting is an outlet for pain. But I pray it will never be my outlet, that instead I and those around me can find a way to push back without destroying others lives. And it sounds as if the looters were being reprimanded by the other protesters on the street too, who realized this was their home, their community.

    • There is as much a place for burning and looting as there is for killing an unarmed youth coming in your direction , stimulating your racist fears of the irrational, physical brutish black man. When you are not listened to, and the racism continues, yes, the only outlet may be looting and burning. I hope not, but let’s be realistic. and which looting was worse, that in Ferguson or that done by the Wall Street banks out of greed?

  3. How do we achieve justice? It is a lot of hard work….requires long term commitment … it starts with those of us who are privledged in this society realizing that “those who have been given more, more is required”. As a privledged person…I have not earned all of what I have received. For those not privledged…like most African Americans…even when they earn something they don’t usually receive it. The anger rises naturally when there is little you can do to better the situation….the cards are stacked against you. We must embrace those in pain because of prejudice and systemtic injustice that even traps good people into blindly ignoring even supporting injustice. May the pain of Ferguson move us to learn and act!

  4. “Work with them. Stop watching the TV and go to work, with them.”—>How?? I got online and googled “how to help Ferguson, MO.” I want to know if events are being organized or what I can do to help. I live in Philly, PA and would like to visit Ferguson or help do something, but what??

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