“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help…” There are numerous references in the Hebrew Scriptures of people crying out to God. The writing of the Prophet Habakkuk strikes me today. His opening four verses feel like they were written today, in America, by our Asian-American and African-American communities. The violence is astounding. Justice almost feels non-existent. Habakkuk writes in 600BC in anger at the fact God seems to allow the rich and the powerful to plunder and rule over the less powerful. It does not feel like much has changed.
As we watch the violence on the news, or around us, how do we respond? Do we listen to the aggrieved? Do we listen to the pain of those harmed, grieve with them, and work for justice at their side? Do we make excuses (“He was having a bad day.” “He was having a hard time recently.”) for the perpetrators? Honestly, what is our heartfelt response?
Realistically, we are not going to change the world. Habakkuk’s words are over 2500 years old and still relevant. However, we can change ourselves. We can look honestly at how we speak of others, how we treat others, and how we respond when we see or hear others mistreated. Here at St. John’s we are slowly putting together a process to look at our attitudes and values as it relates to people whose skin color or lifestyle is different from ours. COVID slowed this process down, but it has not stopped it.
While we must remain diligent in regards to COVID, as things open back up again we have an opportunity to look at our concerns and attitudes towards one another as we work together. We have an opportunity to continue to enrich and improve our work life together. The violence we continue to see unfolding in our country, violence that has been with us for a long time is worth challenging. Even though the violence seems far away for many of us. It is not the case for all of us. It is worth challenging our norms and attitudes that we might all find a way to live together in a shared sense of community.