By Matt Keppel
All lives matter. At least, we want them to matter… right? Maybe we all just want the desire for them to matter. It’s a cultural norm. We are told that we are supposed to care for everyone. It is in the Declaration of Independence that “All men (people) are created equal.” The Constitution of the United States of America has multiple amendments to ensure the equality of the citizens of our country. These are lessons provided to us as Christians, and they mean something, but what exactly?
What is so wrong with saying “All Lives Matter”? Lots.
What gets people so upset about this statement? Lots.
Don’t they value every life? Kind of.
Is it racist to say that “Black Lives Matter”? No.
I believe what we have reached is an impasse of the mind and heart. If you ask the average person on the street if he or she should help the poor, the overwhelming response is likely to be “yes.” In fact, you would probably get looks as if to say that it would be asinine to ask such a thing. However, if you ask a person to help the poor, the reaction will probably be quite the opposite. Don’t believe me (or even if you do)?
Watch this video (Warning: vulgar language):
Crazy right? Well, probably crazier that someone was wearing a sign that said “F— the Poor.” It’s vulgar and assaults our senses. It’s a message that we don’t want to hear. The reality becomes even more stark when we see people who are not necessarily wearing a sign around their necks, but are certainly saying it with their body language. How often have we ignored a sign pleading “Help the Poor”? How often have each one of us walked past somebody clearly in need?
We don’t just relegate this to our treatment of the poor. It is truly anybody within society that we don’t want to associate with. It isn’t just a white-person issue, but a human issue. The way we treat people whom we consider to be outcast or lesser is a part of our innate brokenness. It plays out in many different ways, but probably no more evident than in the way the United States judicial system has treated African Americans.
Why is it important that “Black Lives Matter”? Because, according to our legal system, they don’t (https://youtu.be/Hfie5bHG1OA). In fact, it’s not just black lives that don’t matter but undocumented immigrants, the abused, the impoverished, the unborn, and so many more. Our prisons are full, our streets are flooded with them, and worse our morgues have far too many. It’s not that we are wearing signs that say “F— Black People.” Rather, we cover ourselves in an aire of “It’s not my fault” or “I already *know* everybody is equal.” We might be right in saying that it isn’t our fault, and we probably already know better. Unfortunately, these sentiments don’t solve the problem. They don’t teach job skills to someone who has never had a job. They don’t help distribute food to a family who has fallen on hard times. They don’t wrap a child who is running from a war in safety.
I wish we could honestly wave flags and put up banners to proclaim our heartfelt belief that “All Lives Matter,” but the reality is so very far from the truth. We know that all lives should matter, but the evidence proves otherwise. Until that day, Black Americans please keep waving your flags. Keep sounding your cry. But I hope that it is more than just for you, but for all of those who don’t fall under the banner of “All Lives.”