I have never run a marathon and I do not intend to add this item to my bucket list. However, annually, in our city of #Cincinnati, thousands of people gather in support of “The Flying Pig Marathon.” Why it’s called the Flying Pig, I do not know; however, I do know that marathon runners can teach me something about pushing through the pain to get to the finish line. In a brief conversation with a friend, I encouraged her to remember that the fight for justice is one in which we may not see victory in this generation. I was unaware how true these words would be since the untimely deaths of #SandraBland and #SamDubose occurred at the hands of injustice just a few months after I made that statement. So, why keep going? Why keep advocating, fighting, resisting the status quo and encouraging others to do the same? Because we all win when justice wins and we all lose if injustice prevails. This only becomes glaringly clear once you have been the recipient of injustice. It is different when it is your daughter or son. Quite different when people of your ethnicity are repeatedly treated unfairly by those hired by the public to protect and serve you.
As communities come together to search for solutions to the growing racial and socioeconomic chasms in their cities, the effort can become overwhelming; even paralyzing. I have wrestled with the reality that this work makes one tired; tired of being patient. Tired, because the goal seems so far away. Sometimes so tired that I feel like my body will give way to the stress and emotional drain of it all. But then I think of former “marathon runners” in the fight for justice and I learn the following:
- Tiredness is normal and to be expected.
- Proper expectation of the journey ahead, preparation, and pace are all necessary for sustainability in this race.
- [Emotional] fatigue increases the desire to betray your mission. In a marathon, comfort, not the cause (or the goal), becomes most important to us when we experience fatigue. For the “justice runner” this shows up as apathy and the idea that things will always remain the same.
- “Justice runners” experience many of the same stages of marathon runners. This funny video highlights the 8 Stages of Marathon Runners . In the video, stage 6, which is known as “The Wall” shows up most frequently when it feels as if “nothing is happening” and justice appears to have reached a stalemate.
I want to encourage those who have committed to the cause of justice to press through and as you press through, DO NOT become bitter WHEN CHANGE TAKES PLACE AT A LESS THAN DESIRED PACE. Bitterness separates us and can so quickly become hate. And hate drives us to make horrible decisions against mankind that are often filled with regret.
I learned recently that justice begins with love. What do I mean by this? Well, when we love someone, their value becomes significantly higher to us. Their value is not dumbed down to their skin color or the amount of money in their bank account or whatever external thing that can easily divide us. When we love a person, their value becomes based on a common thread we all have; humanity.
Sometimes the paralysis of injustice remains because we have chosen not to love. A friend of mine recently wrote a blog post, A Poem: Tomorrow is Not Promised, Love Today, which challenges us to choose love. It is a choice. We can not choose how long we will be on the earth, but we can choose to love those we encounter. After reading her post, I acknowledged that the path to racial reconciliation and justice is paved with difficult conversations, offense, and even anger; but NONE of these things should stop me from moving towards the goal. In fact, I must remember to lead with love and this can even mean laying down the “right” to “be right” if it means losing the opportunity to reconcile.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3 [NIV]