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Friday, July 8, 2016

Vultures



Before you begin to read this, I want to express... clearly... that I expect this to be one of the most unpopular things I have ever written.  I expect backlash.  I don't even want to write this.  And yet, here I am...

"Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather" (Matthew 24:28, NIV).

It's like we're vultures.  I feel like a vulture.

The world is filled with tragedy, friends.  Filled... with... it... 

I have always been relatively sensitive to this.  I can remember specific, detailed information about airplane crashes, accidents, disappearances, and murders that I would have heard about on the news as a child.  This stuff sticks with me, but I would like to take a moment to authentically communicate some things:

*I have no idea what it feels like to board a vessel that is not seaworthy... with toddlers in tow... because this is the safest choice I can make for my family... only to watch them all drown.  Remember the Syrian refugee crisis?  We were all upset about it last September, but as it wears on, and real people continue to live and die in unacceptable circumstances, all but a handful of people I know (missionaries on the ground, immigration lawyers, etc.) have moved on.  At some point, this crisis ceased to be the hot button topic, and let's be real it was sooner rather than later.  To blog about Syrian refugees, today, is social media suicide.  There are no ratings in it.  Almost nobody cares.  And yet there is a father and husband out there, completely alone.

*I have no idea what it feels like to be the mother of black children who may be shot, with or without cause... whose stories will never be fully known and whose deaths will almost certainly not result in any kind of justice, because our system is flawed.  Every time this happens (and it's mind blowing how often it happens), we all get upset.  We blog it.  We spew FB statuses and tweets.  And then the next shiny distraction comes along and we forget their names.  Each one creates a moment during which we can potentially be illumined by the spotlight, but as the attention shifts and the light dims, we don't even panic for a split second.  There will be another story to take advantage of, soon enough.  It will take the place of this one.  Never mind the family who could never have another child to do the same.

*I have no idea what it feels like to be the widow of a police officer shot in the line of duty... perhaps one who was one of the good ones... simply because there are bad ones.  I have no idea what it feels like to wonder if it's safe to let my children sit close to the car windows as their father's body is paraded through a town filled with people who mostly loved him and a couple of mentally unstable ones who might try to take another shot.  The pictures will flood the media.  They will become the poster family for taking a stand against violence inflicted on public servants.  And then the next time any of us is pulled over for speeding, we'll hate law enforcement all over again and find ourselves completely unable to pull that family's images back to our memory banks.  We don't have to walk into the house filled with candid photographs of what life used to be like.    

*I have no idea what it feels like to walk into a club and be gunned down because of my sexual orientation.  Are we still talking about this?  Oh, we're not?  Because a couple of weeks ago if you didn't make a statement within minutes of this tragedy, somebody was calling for your head.  Now that 50 people are dead and buried it seems as if, maybe, the narrative has run its course.

*I have no idea what it feels like to have my preschooler fall into a gorilla pit at the zoo or to have my toddler violently snatched away from my side... and this life... by an alligator, while vacationing at Disney World.  We all become experts, though, when it happens to someone else, don't we?  My goodness, how about some compassion and humility!  I am one of the most protective mothers I know... to a fault... to the point that people criticize me for it...  and even I have had moments during which my children have slipped away from me.  Graciously, these have not ended in tragedy, but I think it might be time to admit that we're not any better than anybody else, and accidents happen to everyone.      

I'm pretty sure I could go on and on and on.  Even this post is a sad testimony to the fact that we forget the suffering of others in a very short amount of time, because all I have noted are recent events.  But this is the point:  We are called to be vulnerable, not to exploit the vulnerability of others.  Oh, good grief!  This is awful!  It is far easier to exploit!  But we just have to stop.

I recently set a new standard for myself (and subsequently broke it, already, with this piece).  I'm not planning to write anything more about issues for which I am not actively working to find solutions.  This has decreased the number of topics about which I can write... with integrity... by an alarmingly large number.  It seems, though, that integrity matters to me, so there are two things I can do about this.  I can write less, or I can do more to promote change and redemption in the world.  Well, you know how much I love to write, so guess which choice I'm making...
 
L.

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