In 1988, the United Church of Canada added five little words to its statement about ordination. Previous to 1988 the church had made the following statements. One, that all people were welcomed as members of the church. Two that all all members were welcome to be considered to be considered for ministry within the United Church. Few if any people disagreed with this statement. We had always been a denomination which took pride in the fact that we welcomed everyone. Then in the spring of 1988, the church proposed adding five little words to the first statement. It now read, all person, regardless of their sexual orientation, were welcomed as members of the church. Suddenly the church was up in arms. A number of voices spoke against these words. While they had no problems with saying all were welcome- they hadn't really meant all. Surely some people weren't included. All could not mean all.
For the past month, we have heard the phrase Black Lives Matter. This has got some people upset. Why is this group being singled out when there are so many other groups who matter as well? Don't Asian lives matter? Don't Indigenous lives matter? Don't white lives matter? Don't All Lives matter?
On the one hand, I truly believe All Lives Matter. Part of my faith tells me that all of us have been created in God's image. I truly believe that I discover more about myself as I interact with everyone that I meet. God calls me to respect all lives and not just some. So yes everyone is important and no one does not matter.
The problem is that in society all does not necessarily mean all means all. People get excluded all of the time. It is ok in society to separate undocumented refugee children from their parents at camps on the other side of the Trump wall because they are not as important as children and parents born on this side of the wall. Their children are not as important as our children. People on welfare or underemployed are not as important as those who are working. Some view them as lazy leeches and not as people with financial difficulties. People who speak different languages, were born elsewhere, practise different religions, have different families, have different skin colours, and so many others are thought to be less important than those who fit the "norms" of a WASP person. Too often, those who are shouting "All Lives Matter", really are just trying to maintain the status quo. Too often those shouting, "All Lives Matter," don't really mean all. Surely it can't mean those people?
It does mean those people. All refers to those people like me and those that are different. All means you, me and everybody else. All means no exclusions. Until we can truly say all and truly mean all, we cannot say all lives matter with any integrity. As soon as we say all, it automatically commits us to living lives where everyone is valued: black, white, Asian, gay, straight, English, French, Mandarin or Urdu speaking, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Buddhist, natural born, immigrant, refugee, male, female, abled or physically challenged, old and young. All encompasses the whole breadth of the human community. No restrictions apply. Blessings