There is conflict in marriage. There is conflict in society. Blame only escalates conflict. The same principles apply to both conflicts, and the same skills solve the problem. This is not an oversimplification. The societal issue is only more complicated because there are many more people involved.
It surprises me sometimes how often couples come to counseling with both people wanting the same basic thing, yet because of a communication breakdown, they have conflict. Either both people fail to be clear, or both people fail to deeply listen. They blame each other, and the conflict escalates. Then they end up in my office.
I think there is something similar going on in this whole BlackLivesMatter vs. AllLivesMatter thing.
This is true. Every human being is an image bearer of God. All men and women were created equal.
And the most effective lies contain mostly truth, and only tiny bits of lies. Rat poison is 99% good rat food, and only 1% poison.
In the media conversation going on right now, some on the AllLivesMatter side are ignoring the realities of poverty, oppression, and injustice that are right in front of them. I am a conservative, white, capitalist. And I acknowledge that many like me have perpetuated these problems. Some, like me, have worked not to perpetuate the problem, but out of ignorance may have perpetuated the pain that came from them (keep reading).
This is true. Every black person is an image bearer of God. All black men and women were created equal to men and women of any other skin color.
A wrong way to hear this message is to think it means that only black lives matter, or that black lives matter more. No. That is not what is meant by it.
This movement is not about making black better than any other color. It is about getting whites and others to see black as equal.
Staying in My Lane
I am a counselor. I am not a policy wonk. I am not a social worker. There are many levels of this divide and problem that I am not qualified to speak to. I believe that the first step toward reconciliation and unity is for both sides to really listen to each other.
Listen without Judging
This phrase is often misunderstood. I use this as a prompt with couples to get them to focus on the emotions the other person is expressing, not on the merits of their logic or the underlying facts. The logic and facts can be addressed once both parties recognize that they have the same basic needs and wants.
History is a large ship to turn. In terms of human history, 1964 was not that long ago. A historian mentor of mine often says it takes at least 100 years after an event to judge its full impact. It has only been 52 years since the passage of the civil rights act. We have made progress. And it has come slowly.
In marriage counseling, many couples have perennial conflicts that keep coming up. A powerful question for these never ending topics is “What changes have you noticed since the last time you talked about this?” Each person in the relationship has emotional triggers that send them into the past, even if the present is better – objectively speaking.
There seems to be a similar emotional trigger for black people in the US. Every young black man that is killed by police takes them back to a time when things really were worse. The objective fact that we have made progress does not overcome subjective pain. We can cite statistics that indicate that black men in gangs kill more black men than police do. We can cite statistics that indicate police kill more white people than they do black people. It doesn’t matter. (Both of those stats can be found in this video).
If we cite those current statistics as if they are all that matter, we are effectively saying “you have no right to be hurt by this.” How obscenely callous!
However, it is equally callous to be willfully blind to progress.
Here is a frequent example in marriage: A husband has stopped looking at pornography and still has a wandering eye in public. His wife is hurt because he still has a wandering eye. He is angry because she doesn’t notice or appreciate his progress. Both have a right to their emotions. Both emotions are grounded in objective facts.
Emotionally speaking, there is something similar underlying the current divide in our society. One side of the divide is stuck in the present, with no remorse for the past. Another side is stuck in the past, with no respect for the present. Unless both sides come together, there is little hope for future progress.
Do your part
Blame helps no one. As long as AllLivesMatter points at BlackLivesMatter and says that only blacks need to change, there will be no progress. As long as BlackLivesMatter points at AllLivesMatter and says that only those in power need to change (which includes some blacks), there will be no progress.
We cannot control other people. We can only control ourselves. Do your part. Change yourself first. Lead by example.