Black Lives Matter. These three words have become the pivot of a global movement which has reached Australia. This past week, Black Lives Matter rallies have occurred around the country, with more being planned. But not everyone is happy with the catch cry that has become the foundation of this movement. In particular those who find the phrase exclusive and prefer the words All Lives Matter.
What has astounded me the most over this divide is just how amazingly invested people are in their choice of rhetoric. While there are some who are attempting to hijack either phrase to push their own agenda, for most people what they mean when they say either set of words is that “we are all human beings. We all deserve the same peace, safety, and respect as anyone else.” Yet this past week on social media I have seen people attacking others relentlessly for either choice of words.
For me, it is my preference to use the words Black Lives Matter. In my opinion these words capture the idea that at all levels of western society, from Governments to individuals, there have been powerful influences that have acted as if black lives don’t matter. If those words exclude me, I still understand that they don’t imply that my life doesn’t matter, that they are a cry for equality. So I can share in them with a sense of justice and equality.
However my facebook friend prefers the words All Lives Matter. For him this phrase captures a vision of a future where shallow differences aren’t considered important. He argues that we should see ourselves in others and provide the opportunity for them to see themselves in us. His is admitedly even the more Biblical vision, capturing something of Galatians 3:28.
Now he and I could argue the semantics here. We could debate, as many have, which set of words better reflects the politics. How each set of words originated. We could, as many have, argue about who is correct. Or we could hear each other.
Ultimately aren’t we saying the same thing? Aren’t we both lamenting injustice and crying out for a better world? And if we try to berate each other into yielding to our view of things, are we really embodying the values we are crying out for?
I am reminded that too often we become invested in rhetoric, rather than meaning. And when that happens we find we can’t see the wood for the trees. Peace isn’t an end to differences. It is learning to live with them. It isn’t us all becoming a large homogenous blob called humanity. It is celebrating different cultures, different views, and different ideas for how they broaden our lives.
This lesson isn’t just valuable now where people around the world are crying out for justice in different ways. It is valuable in every aspect of our lives. Big and small. Because it reminds us that all together, we are God’s good creation.
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