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Facing our Truth

May 29, 2020
Capuchin Retreat
Mural in downtown Detroit

By Fr. Tom Zelinksi, OFM Capuchin

These days, some sad and disturbing news comes to us. We hear of questionable actions by a police officer, a man dies, angry people respond with violent action. This is a scene all too often repeated. What might we think about all this?

I have never been a police officer. I do not know the burden and the fear in that position. It is often a thankless job. Yet we need police to help keep order in our society. But I also have not walked in the shoes of my African-American brothers and sisters. I have not known their inner experience of being judged or feared simply because of the color of their skin. I have not felt their experience of being stopped by police. A common expression is that some are stopped for “driving while Black.”

All of these troubling events remain the heritage of our history of slavery. White people brought slaves from Africa and then resented them for being who they were: probably the sting of a guilty conscience. We call that whole story the sin of racism.

What is any of us to do? As with so many things, it could start by looking within. What does my conscience tell me about my own thoughts and feelings? How do I respond at the sight of someone who looks different from me? How might I be led to wrongly judge people simply by appearance? How well do I live the message of Matthew 25, where Jesus tells us that what we do for any brother or sister, we do for him?

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