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.
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.