It isn’t really about the Charleston massacre, it’s about race. It’s about racism. It’s about White supremacy and knowing what it means for a White man to murder nine Black people inside a church known for Black resistance and liberation. Knowing this, I wonder how to make others in my life understand that ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is the determinant and companion of racism and violence. There may be many who think like Dylann Roof, but there are millions who don’t even give it a second thought. That mass of folks is where I tend to focus.
The only way I know how to convince others to care is to love harder. Activists often claim the fight for social justice means resisting and fighting against the “system.” The system is clearly a part of it, but that’s not the fight. The fight is against complacency, indifference. It is against the docile citizens standing guard at the fence protecting their blissful ignorance. To love harder means loving the suffering even more and [trying to] love the indifferent with bravery and speaking against their fastidious hold to passivity.
I have fallen in love so many more times than I can write. The communities and homes I have built with other people have allowed me to fall even more deeply in love with others over the course of my life. The deeper I declare this love of Other, the more distant I feel from complacency. It is impossible to be complacent if you truly love another human being impacted by social inequality. Love requires the danger of losing oneself. It is not a romantic notion. It is a fact of social justice. Love is so much more dangerous than peace meetings.
I keep thinking of those church walls that held the last breaths of those nine lives murdered last night. I think about what may have been said in that last hour of bible study; in the exchange of faith, hope, and words of transformation, possibly liberation. And in that space of studying, personal reflection, and likely rumination of one’s own life, the anti-Black sentiment showed it’s evil face. What other than the word evil could explain the impermeable heart listening for an hour before slaying a spiritual community? How could so much hate build in such a short span of 21 years of life?
When I worked as a minister, I tried to always end a presentation, session, program, or visit with a vision or word of hope so others could hold onto that afterward. I pray to God that those murdered last night were somehow held by a last thought or word that had been exchanged in love. I know that it’s unlikely, but I pray that somehow they were able to hold onto that, and not the hate that killed them, in their last moments.
If there was ever a time to love harder, it would be now.