All Knives Matter …
It had been a while since I had a sit-down with Jesus, so I was excited to see Him on The Balcony at City Grocery in Oxford early Monday evening, the night of the first Presidential debate.
I’m always captivated with how, with the mere swish of a finger, Jesus can turn common tap water into the finest red wine imaginable. He knows I’m mesmerized by that, so He made a less-than-discreet production of it, then grinned and winked at me as He sucked the wine off His finger.
Are you gonna watch the debates tonight? He asked.
“No,” I said. “Are you?”
Probably not. Given the candidates, I think I’d just as soon sit here and talk with you.
“That ain’t sayin’ much!” I quipped. Jesus grinned.
Just then a woman came onto The Balcony wearing a t-shirt that said “All Knives Matter”. The lettering looked like different kinds of blades. I chuckled.
“Forks and spoons matter, too,” I deadpanned. Jesus rolled his eyes.
“What?” I asked. “I think that’s a pretty funny take on the ‘All Lives Matter’ stuff. I mean, it started with Black Lives Matter, then Blue Lives Matter, then whatever demographic you’re a part of matters. All Lives Matter is so much more accurate.”
All lives do matter, Randy. Life itself matters. But this movement started with a specific group of people who’ve been marginalized in so many ways for so very long. If we broaden our focus to All Lives Matter there won’t be a spotlight on the injustice African Americans suffer. Their voice will get diluted and drowned out once again. It’s like this: put a drop of black dye in a teaspoon of water. The water turns dark. Then pour that teaspoon into a gallon of water. It’s almost invisible. The spotlight becomes a floodlight and everything looks the same.
“But isn’t the Black Lives Matter movement racist?”
It’s no more racist than the Civil Rights Movement was. Black Lives Matter is Moses crying out to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”
“I thought we already went through all that.”
Get your head out of the sand, Randy. It’s been going on for ages. You just didn’t know about most of it. Now everybody has a cell phone with a camera. They can post a video online so fast that the entire world can see it in mere seconds. Now you can see people dying right there in the palm of your hand. KILLING IS NOT A VIDEO GAME!
“Are you saying we’re desensitized? Calloused?”
Yep. That pretty much sums it up. You just don’t care anymore.
“Hold on a minute, Jesus. I care. I just don’t know what to do.”
And how do you keep yourself from knowing what to do?
Better yet, how do you keep yourself from doing what you already know to do?
“I don’t get it.”
Duh! You’re not powerless, Randy. You’ve said that these times remind you of the ‘60’s. They remind me of the 60’s, too. But in the 60’s people got sick and tired of bigotry, injustice, war – and they actually did something about it! Now you’re too comfortable to rebel. You just wanna to sit around and complain, then blame everybody else who won’t do anything either.
“So let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’?”
At least you’d be doing SOMETHING!
“And that’s gonna change the world?”
When you’re holding somebody else’s hand you can’t hold a gun or a bomb or a knife. And singing together is harmonious – unifying.
“That’s so trite. What we need is to get active in our towns and cities. Our faith communities need to get out and fight injustice. We need to make our government change things so we can go to sleep at night and not be afraid that we’re gonna be shot down or blown to smithereens the next day. I know it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the kind of movement we need!”
So what would be your first step in starting such a movement?
“I’d get to know my neighbors – the people I see all the time but never speak to. If we knew each other better we might be able to make a real difference.”
Wow. For somebody who doesn’t know what to do you sure know what to do. So, what WILL you do?
How many times do I have to quote Yoda to you? “There is no ‘try’ – there’s only ‘do’.”
“Oh. Yeah. That.”
Jesus got up and left. As he walked down the street I could hear him singing a song from 1973 made famous by the Staple Singers:
Reach out and touch a hand.
Make a friend if you can.
Reach out and touch a hand.
Make a friend if you can…*
(*Reach Out and Touch a Hand, Hampton/Homer/Banks/Jackson. Copyright © 1973, Universal Music Group.)
Randy Weeks is a minister and a counselor. He lives and writes in Oxford. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.