I did not know whether I could write a blog this week. Between the heartbreaking news that we have lost more than 100,000 of our citizens to this deadly global virus and the senseless and brutal murder of George Floyd, it’s been tough for me to focus. And I know I’m not alone. Adding to my angst was the sight of peaceful protesters being forcibly removed so that President Trump could do a photo-op with a Bible I’m quite sure he’s never read.
And yet, I’ve also found hopeful signs that suggest we are in a new season where positive change can happen. Here are five things that give me hope:
- These protests look and feel different. Thousands of Americans in more than 100 cities of every age, race, and ethnicity have come out of their homes to affirm that black lives matter, and they’ve been joined by protesters abroad as well. As Reverend Al Sharpton pointed out in his eulogy for George Floyd, in some cases, young whites outnumbered black folks marching. We seem to be recognizing that we all need one another.
- While most protests have been peaceful, there have been incidents of looting and vandalism. The sight of multi-racial groups of volunteers helping shop owners cleanup has been so inspiring and moving.
- I am thankful to General James Mattis for the amazing letter he wrote to The Atlantic in support of the protesters who are “insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation” in demanding “Equal Justice Under Law.” His analysis of President Trump’s abhorrent behavior as a threat to our constitution was spot on.
- I am grateful and hopeful that Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee for president, offers a clear alternative to the divisive leadership we’ve had in the White House for the past three and a half years. In his speech this past week in Philadelphia, he moved beyond a message of a return to normalcy toward a message of progressive genuine change. Declaring that it was time “for our nation to deal with systemic racism,” he promised to create a national police oversight commission if elected. What is most refreshing about him is his genuine caring, empathy, and willingness to listen to those who are hurting and who have been left behind.
- And finally, I am grateful for my sons who are living their values in the work that they do. On a visit to Denver in January, I witnessed the wonderful work my younger son is doing as an inner-city high school teacher and basketball coach. And my older son, a CEO, is also doing incredible work. Not only has his company made a sizable donation to Black Lives Matter, but they have promised to match donations of any of their employees to BLM or any legitimate non-profit fighting racial injustice. They are also working hard to become a more inclusive organization in their recruiting and hiring practices and have partnered with Voto Latino to promote voting and register voters in traditionally under-represented populations.
The work my own sons are doing, and the work so many in this country are doing, gives me hope for our future. My prayer is that in the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren, we can move toward community in which love, justice, and compassion for all define who we are as a nation and a world.