You may have heard of ride-along programs with police. We need these ride-along programs. We also need live-along programs with police, with black men, with white men, with all people.
The key is not to be color-blind. The key is to move forward with eyes wide-open in the life-challenging and life-saving effort to build trust with blue and black and white by living alongside and by becoming blue and black and white. As Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird would say, if you really want to get along better with people, you need to step inside their shoes and see life as they see it: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Anwar Sanders rides along every day with police and African Americans as as African American police officer in Dallas, Texas. He lives “both those lives.” And it ain’t easy, as the interview with him reveals. Nor is it easy watching videos of the shooting deaths of police and by police officers this past week in Texas, Louisiana, and Minnesota. We are killing ourselves in America in various ways over race. The only way we will overcome the racial divide is by living together; otherwise, we will keep on destroying each other.
We need to e-race-hate by riding along and climbing inside one another’s lives. But that takes time and vulnerability. That takes listening ears and hearts. That takes each and all of us and you and me. No political or religious or civil rights leader can heal America. Only all of us can. The racial problems are far too intimate and complex in and around Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and wherever else we live.
Who can heal America? Only God can… Only we can. We must ride together, meditate and pray together, believe and dream and struggle together, as one religious and civil rights leader said a long time ago:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together”…
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Just as God climbed into our skin to erase hatred and injustice in the person of Jesus, we need to step inside one another’s skin. We need to ride alongside and live alongside one another. Will we do that?