Like all of you, I am heartbroken over what is happening in our country right now. No one can justify what happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, or the many, many others before them. The anger and sadness I feel, as a white American, is nothing compared to the fury, fear, and grief that our black and African-American brothers and sisters may be feeling. I don’t know if my words today help or not, but I feel led to reach out.
As I read Bishop Michael Curry’s Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post today, it struck me that we need to act right now, this very moment, to choose love and to teach our children to choose love. Bishop Curry said, “Frustration must not lead to fatalism or despair. We are not condemned to live this way forever. I recommend a different path – the path of love.” He said on the Today Show this morning that love is a choice each person must make every day – not just sometimes – all the time.
Each of us was created by the same God – in His image. If we will look into one another’s eyes and see the beauty of God’s creation, maybe we will choose to treat one another better – to understand why each person deserves dignity and respect. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” We need to stop being foolish.
On Sunday, I participated in a workshop at River Oaks Baptist Church, led by Jeanie Miley. It was about why spiritual formation is essential for young children. The answer was simple yet profound. Our children must learn of God’s love at an early age for His love to guide their lives when they are an adult. Now is the time to teach your child to honor every other person as a child of God. To love them, even at those times when you may not like them.
Of course, we know there is deeper work that also must be done to address underlying issues of bias and systemic inequality in our society. We are committed to doing that work, too. It is why we have chosen diversity, equity, and inclusion as a priority in our next strategic plan. It is why Todd Herauf and I will be attending (virtually) the NAIS Diversity Leadership Institute this month. It is why we have engaged a curriculum consultant to work with our academic leaders on lessons in cultural competence and racial literacy. We will not turn away from this responsibility. In fact, today it seems more urgent than ever.
Parents, seize this opportunity to teach your children to choose God’s love. Don’t ignore what is happening around us. Don’t let the hurt be a waste. We can use this time to ensure that our children understand what Jesus taught us in the parable of The Good Samaritan. If, like me, you were taught that it wasn’t polite to talk about race, or you were raised to be “colorblind,” the idea of talking to your children about racism may be scary. You may be afraid, as I was, that you’ll say something the wrong way. But we must dive in, even if we flounder a bit along the way.
Communities of color do not have the luxury to avoid these conversations with their kids. In fact, what black parents call “the talk” may be a matter of life and death. It’s time for all of us to join in this conversation. Here is a list of resources that might help you begin, or watch this powerful conversation led by Jeremy Foster, pastor of Hope City Church, for a dose of inspiration.
Our children are the police officers, politicians, teachers, lawyers, front-line healthcare providers, and protestors of the future. Our world would be a different place if everyone could trust that their fellow human-beings saw one another as God sees them. If you feel helpless among all that is swirling around you, choose love—not just for some, but for everyone. Make sure your children see and hear that you are choosing love. We can change the world for our children and grandchildren by teaching them to love one another.
As Bishop Curry ended his piece, “Now is the time for a national renewal of the ideals of human equality, liberty, and justice for all. Now is the time to commit to cherishing and respecting all lives, and honoring the dignity and infinite worth of every child of God. Now is the time for all of us to show — in our words, our actions, and our lives — what love really looks like.”
What choice are you going to make today? Do black lives matter to you? They matter to me, and I choose love.
This blog entry was originally published on June 1, 2020 as a letter to school families from ROBS Head of School Leanne Reynolds.