“When we say that ‘Black Lives Matter’ we are not saying that other lives don’t matter, we are just saying that black people shouldn’t be treated badly or looked at differently because of our skin color.” These words spoken by a young scholar at Borromeo Academy last week to schoolmates helped them to better understand why cities from coast-to-coast experience protests all summer long. Whenever a black person is unjustly victimized—whether the sickening murder of Emmett Till in 1955, the almost daily homicides of blacks by other blacks in crime ridden cities like Chicago, or the suspicion that some police officers have of young black men—it should give us pause; and it should cause us to take a long and loving look at the truth that black lives matter. Shame on us for the times that we, as a society, ever thought otherwise.
Blue Lives Matter also. The First Amendment gives United States citizens the right to assemble and protest peacefully; it does not give any of us the right to protest violently. How did we ever get to this place in 2020 where protestors can shout, “Death to Police!” A few days ago, as we commemorated the awful events of 9/11, we also paused to honor first responders: police officers, firefighters, EMTs, teachers, and every other underpaid civil servant who protects, serves, and works for a better America. Those who put on the blue uniform risk their lives for our sake each day. They deserve our support and encouragement, not abuse.
Pre-natal Lives Matter, too. It wasn’t all that long ago that Mother Teresa came to the United States and, in the presence of our President and Vice-president, and many other civil leaders, said: “If we accept that parents can kill their own children, how can we tell other people to not kill each other. Any nation that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love; rather it is teaching them to use any violence whatsoever to get what they want.” Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by all the violence in our nation when, according to our laws, the lives of unborn children don’t matter. When our church says that unborn lives matter, we are not saying that other lives don’t matter or that mothers don’t have rights, we’re just saying that babies shouldn’t be discarded. When we ask, “What about the mother?” we should also ask, “What about the baby?”
The Lives of Brown Skins and Red Skins Matter as well. As we look to Immigrants from the south who want a better life or Native Americans whose land was taken, we ought to look even more deeply and more lovingly at what matters to us as a society; this, too, should give us pause. Twenty-twenty may be a pivotal year in our recognition of what matters as we seek unity in our diversity. Whether we are a “melting pot” or more of a “tossed salad,” we coexist in this land of hope as one.
I have stated in the past few months that I think the NFL can help us out of the jam we’re in because of the great diversity of players and their respect for one another. Though happy to return to the fall football schedule, I, like many fans, was saddened to hear “boos” in Arrowhead when players of various colors and ethnic backgrounds from the opposing teams locked arms in a sign of unity to pause before the Chiefs’ home opener. And I think it’s strange that The Washington Football Team will play this year without a mascot. I am just glad that The Chiefs were named in a manner that no one should find offensive, after the first chief of the local Tribe of Mic-O-Say, Chief Lone Bear (H Roe Bartle), the popular mayor of Kansas City when the team first came to town. I hope the protesters don’t protest his name or legacy. It matters, too.