France, Lebanon, and Black Lives Matter
All the world – tout le monde – grieves and stands with France in the midst of these harrowing days.
All the world – kl alealam – grieves and stands with Lebanon.
As people of faith, our hearts can only break when God’s children turn against each other in the name of God. And the most elemental, effective way to counter such “turning against” is to reverse the gesture, turning toward one other in solidarity, compassion, and hope.
On Friday night, I attended the student-organized vigil against racism, a gathering powerfully proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. Christian Theological Seminary's student body president Whittney Murphy spoke eloquently that we are like the candles we held that night: sometimes flickering in the wind, or even going out, but then rekindled by the lights of others. The shadows may fall and the winds threaten, but together we can walk in the promise that God is with us, and that God is a light the world’s shadows cannot and will not overcome.
As we stood together in the vigil that night along Michigan Road, the attacks in Lebanon were only a day old, and the news was just beginning to come in about the attacks in Paris. On one level, these various events – the vigil and the attacks – seem separate and distinct. But on a deeper level, they are profoundly connected. The same dehumanizing act of dividing the world into “us” on the one hand and “our enemies” on the other is the root of both racism and religious intolerance. The peace and equality for which the vigil called here at home is the same peace and equality we need in France, Lebanon, and beyond. And what’s more (and more troubling), while France has received a public outpouring of support and solidarity from around the world, Lebanon has not. For many, this has understandably raised the question: When it comes to the world’s solidarity and concern, don’t Lebanese lives matter as much as French ones? If our hearts (or Facebook pages) now bear the French flag’s blue, white, and red, shouldn’t they also bear Lebanon’s red, white, and green?
In the New Testament Gospels, Jesus’ signature move is to stand with outsiders, with the forgotten or marginalized, and to reach across religious and ethnic lines of hostility. Following Jesus as best we can, we can only heed the call to do the same. Jesus is in Lebanon. Jesus is standing along Michigan Road. Jesus is in France, and in so many other places around the world, mending the brokenhearted, calling for justice, calling for love. Wherever the shadows fall, there Jesus goes, the flickering, quickening light of the world.
And so we give thanks for student leaders, their voices clear, their faces illuminated by candles of hope. We give thanks for all of those committed to helping to turn these horrifying attacks into renewed resolve to work toward reconciliation. For as we approach the coming Season of Advent, those four weeks of lament and prayer that lead to a once-forgotten backwater not far from Lebanon, we know our lives depend on the love that binds us together. So much depends on that love.
All the world – tout le monde, kl alealam – depends on it.
A big thank you to SALT’s very own Matthew Myer Boulton for this prophetic word of comfort and hope during this painful time of violence, brokenness, and hurt all around...