Reflections on Seattle’s #BlackLivesMatter Protest: How can we come together?

I’m often silent on #BlackLivesMatter. It’s not to say I don’t care; I care deeply. But what can I offer more than solidarity in sadness of lives unnecessarily lost?

Then, on my bus ride home in Seattle last night, I stumbled upon a #BlackLivesMatter protest, in light of the recent tragic killings of Philando Castile, of Alton Sterling, of so many others. There was anger in their chants, their battlecries. Do I sympathize? Yes. But not with the aggression. Because while bitterness is understandable, I choose defiant respect – regardless of color, profession, political position, religion – in the face of fear or frustration. It is only intolerance that will not merit my respect. And yes. I do know that I am privileged to take this stance; so I do it in humility, even obligation: to live my life offering defiant respect to all I encounter…

Meanwhile, the protesters were surrounded by dozens of police – thankfully on bicycles, somehow building a psychological sense of humanity, of approachability. We need this so much right now!!! They were kind-eyed and sympathetic. At least they gave the allusion so. Several protesters leaving the several hours’  protest thanked the police for their service as they walked away, giant signs calling to “End Police Violence Now” in tow. (I love Seattle for this!!)

And indeed, we need to find a space to TALK and to LISTEN to each other, openly, about how to move away from such unnecessary uses of force, while (and I know this is hard) keeping respect, staying open to the other side.

Standing there on the sidelines of that protest, I felt respect and solidarity for both sides of this incredibly complex and deeply sad story. Where does the truth lie? Where is our path forward? Somewhere in the middle.

I watched the whole thing silently from a distance, bursting into unrestrained tears: for the lives lost, for our loss of trust in authority, for trying times. A lump remains in my throat even now. How did we become so divided? So fearful and frustrated? 

And then, as I walked away, I heard several officers whispering about the (then) developing story of sniper shootings in Dallas, with 12 police officers shot, 5 fatally. Where does it end? 

Tonight I will have many prayers. Tomorrow, I will walk with my head high and with eyes kind. We share this world. In its beauty, in its crazy. We have to find a way to come together.

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