The Home of the Brave

The world feels heavy as the sky drops tears that drip and pool around my feet as if there is no end to the grief, no place large enough to hold it, so it sits and waits. I, too, sit and wait, grieving for seventeen lives gone too soon. All around me, I hear voices rising, arguing over the why and the what needs to happen next. What if everyone were a little bit right? What if the heart of the matter goes so much deeper? What if it’s really a heart matter that more guns, officers, and concerned citizens cannot change?

We show that we are a fragile people when we insist on more protection and build bigger walls to keep out those we see as a threat to our own happiness and security. But, what if the very actions we take to protect ourselves actually help to grow terrorists within our midst? What if by forgetting to be brave and loving to those who are “other”, we are actually giving tools to the next generation to hate those who are different from us? What if the answer to hate and fear was not walls or more guns but being brave? To be brave is to walk into fear because of love for something so much greater than being safe. Brave doesn’t make refugees sit in camps for 26 years when we have more than enough resources to create a home for them. Brave sits next to LGBTQ individuals and listens to their stories. Brave buys sandwiches and coffee instead of guns, shares blankets and coats instead of hate mail. Brave admits that we have a problem, that we collectively  benefit from an economy built on cruelty – first to the 10+ Million who walked this land long before we set foot here, taking their homes and their lives. Secondly to the sons and daughters of Africa, ripped from home, beaten, raped, and worked to death: treated as disposable people to build a thriving empire of cotton, sugar, tobacco and railways. Brave teaches what the history books omit – the horror of the Jim Crow South after the Civil War, the Great Migration and all that came thereafter.

Brave does not panic and shoot unarmed people of color. It does not relegate First Nations people to tiny corners of this wide land and strip them of dignity. Brave does not sit in a neighborhood where everyone looks the same, has the same income level and drives the same kind of cars.

Brave does not play it safe. It goes to where love is needed the most. It cannot help it because love is the magnet that pulls brave forward.

Perhaps the problem is that we forgot what it means to be brave. Perhaps we forgot those outrageous ancient words that whisper still through time and space.

If you live by a weapon, you will die by a weapon.

What if we taught the next generation to be brave by walking bravely ourselves? What if we had the courage to cross racial, religious, economic and any of those other lines we ourselves have invented?

What if we built bridges instead of walls and led the next generation across them?

What if we were that brave?

 

Love and Ashes

Today is both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. We’re in the middle of Black History Month.  Rohingya refugees are still streaming across the border from Myanmar to an already-crowded Bangladesh, now totaling 900,000.  Love and bravery, death and injustice, all wrapped up in the cold and dark of winter.

For me though, it is Ash Wednesday that ties it all together.

Ashes rubbed in the shape of a cross saying:

You are dust and to dust you will return”.

Sometimes it takes the crumbling remains of death to remind me of the greatest of all loves. A love whose whisper penetrates through time and space,

The only thing I ask of you is to love me with all you have, and to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” 

If we did that, love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, it wouldn’t be a lonely day for anyone. We wouldn’t have only a month of Black History because our history books would speak truth each day of the year. We would not have 1.19 million refugees in need of a home. According to UNHCR, less than 6% of these found home last year. I did the math and it is heart wrenching.

So my gift to you, on this day of love and ashes, during this month of remembering, is to share with you a beautiful glimpse of humanity in the moving picture Human Flow. Created by Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and activist, who spent his childhood in refugee camp, The Human Flow beautifully documents the refugee crisis and it’s impact on the world. Ai Weiwei says:

“The refugee crisis is not about refugees, rather, it is about us. Our prioritisation of financial gain over people’s struggle for the necessities of life is the primary cause of much of this crisis.”

You can read more of his story here, as well as watch the trailer for the movie. For those of you with Amazon Prime, The Human Flow will be released on Prime on February 16.