Monday, June 14

Tuesday’s Temptation: Letting Others Steal Your Joy

This morning, I found out that the Supreme Court made a decision that upheld immunity from prosecution for the police. In the specific case, an officer shot a woman four times. She was holding a knife. Pointed down at the ground, not up in a threatening manner. She was shot four times and survived. She sued the officer. He countered with an immunity claim. After various courts saying "no" then "yes," it found its way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court sided with the officer.

This took my generally decent morning and turned it upside down. I find it sad that we cannot allow a civil or criminal court to come to the conclusion that the officer acted rightly or wrongly. I especially dislike the message this gives to policing at large that is, "My bad decision is immune from accountability." And I abhor the effect this has on black and brown bodies who are shot by police at 2.5 (source: snopes) times the rate that white folks are. Although, to be fair, extra-judicial shooting of people, whether black, brown, or white, is horrific.

The Supreme Court stole my joy this morning and now I have to work to get it back.

But think about this. I am a person who could intentionally walk through my life with ease. I look like someone from the dominant society. I could avoid news of shootings and such. I would still be kind and helpful but I could side-step issues that would steal my joy. But people who are from the black community and shot at 2.5 times the rate...or people from mountain-top mining communities that suffer twice the national rate of cancer...or transgender folks who are continually bullied and denied their legal name and attempt suicide at rates of 45%...they cannot simply walk through life avoiding bad news. 

People will intentionally interject and steal their joy. So maybe the temptation is not letting others steal my joy, but allowing my joy to be stolen. As a person of the dominant culture, I can allow my joy to be stolen. It is mostly a choice. For others, it is no choice.

When I allow my joy to be stolen, I enter into the story of human suffering that connects us all together. It is here, with blinders off, that we can say, "I see you." And maybe it is here, with blinders off, seeing one another, that we can work at building our joy together.

My prayer for us all today is that we see one another as fully human connected to one another through our suffering and our joy.




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