It was last evening about 9pm. An old colleague from Toronto shared a story from the Calgary Herald saying that the planned Black Lives Matter protest here in Innisfail was being postponed due to extremely negative opponents of the march. I was surprised. Even though I was receiving emails from the group that has planned three peaceful protests in Red Deer over the past week and a half (one of which I was able to go to), I had heard nothing of a planned protest in town here. I know I am new in town and even though I have tried to connect, I am still learning who the players are in town. I have made connections, and like to think I have made many connections, but the idea of a proposed rally and nasty backlash was new to me.
The comments on the idea of the rally ranged from A to Z. Some people insisted that there was no racism here in Innisfail. Some were opposed because should not other groups be included as well. Why single one out was there way of thinking. Some feared that the riots that have shook so much of the US might happen here. Some suggested that George Floyd deserve his fate. Some posts were about white power. Some just thought we should honour all lives and that was that. Some were worried about the spread of COVID 19.
In general, I have found Innisfail to be quite accepting town. My congregation have been extremely welcoming of Brian and myself. Every business has been quite accepting. The staff at the hospital were fantastic when I was hospitalized. In restaurants and grocery stores there have been a few voices though that have made racist comments about others in the community. They were not many voices. However they have been heard making derogatory comments to those of other faiths, those with different skin colours, those born in other lands, and those who for whatever reason were different. They were few voices but they were very loud. These few dissenting voices made it clear that they do not welcome those who are different.
The world now needs to silence voices. We live in a global world. No race, nationality, gender, mother tongue or sexuality has a sole claim on virtue. No race, nationality, gender, mother tongue or sexuality is homogenous. All of these groups are made up of good and bad. All of us though, no matter who we are, we are God's beloved creation. All of us have something to offer. All of us deserve respect, dignity, justice, and equal treatment under the law.
Saying "All Lives Matter" is really a cop out I think in this era of division. Yes it is important that everyone is respected, but right now the black population of the US and Canada is asking us to understand that they have not been treated equally. They have been hurt. They are asking for justice. They are asking for change. I don't think this in anyway shape or form means that Black Lives are more important than any other lives. What I think it means is that if we begin to realize that one group in society has been hurt, we will begin to realize that others are hurting in our town, county, and province right now. And if justice is given to one group, it is easier to give justice to another. Let justice flow like a mighty river. Blessings.