Where there is hope…

sunrise and hope

I watched limited coverage of the news last night. I saw enough to know that, as predicted, Ferguson erupted in anger and violence. Peaceful protests were quickly lost in the rampage. Anger coursed through the streets of the small town, and spread across the country with protests springing up in Denver, Chicago, Oakland, New York, and more.

I watched little coverage because the anger jumped from the screen and began coursing through my veins. I felt powerless and frustrated as the images flashed across the screen. As I wrote yesterday, I was not privy to the evidence and testimony the Grand Jury poured over since being sat August 25, nor have I read the newly released documents from the hearing. I did, however, pay attention to the announcement, when it was finally made.

When the “no indictment” ruling was read, I empathized with both sides. How could I not? There are parents who still mourn the loss of their son and now left feeling justice was not served. On the other hand, there is a young officer, a newlywed, whose life is forever changed and his career (at least in Ferguson) likely ended. My heart breaks for all parties involved. So many lives changed in the matter of minutes.

Crawling into bed last night, I turned on the TV to hear the updates before I said a prayer and closed my eyes. I hadn’t watched any of the “live coverage” as it unfolded. The replayed images were horrific enough. More lives changed, possibly destroyed, as business were burned to the ground in Ferguson. People scurried through broken windows and emerged with arms filled with stolen goods. Cars were set ablaze. Tear gas canisters were set off to control and disperse a crowd.

Then, I heard it, and my blood boiled. The reporter said the protests had turned violent, that protesters were looting and setting buildings on fire. No, no, no! I reject the notion that those who were there to protest the verdict are the same that set a building ablaze. I reject the theory that the woman, man, or child that set out with a sign to express sadness and ask for change is the same that emerged from their home with a mask to conceal their identity and commit a crime. I reject the idea that all protestors turn violent when race is at the central issue.

I’m not foolish. I understand the concept and reality of the “mob mentality.” On the small TV screen in my bedroom last night I watched anger unite strangers and tear through a community without discretion. I blurred the images I saw last night with those that I saw those many years ago during the Rodney King riots. In both, the voices that had gathered to peacefully protest were drowned out by the destruction of anger and a community is left in disrepair. Peace was lost in the ashes of despair.

Thankfully, there was no loss of (physical) life last night. Still, a great deal was lost. Ask the man who stepped on the bus this morning to go to work only to step off the bus in front of the Dollar Store where he (once) worked at and found it burned to the ground. Ask the owner of the local Cesar’s Pizza, who spent part of his evening trying to turn away the angry mob from his livelihood, only to lose the battle in the wee hours of the morning.

Ferguson stands broken this morning. Businesses lost, jobs gone; someone’s life’s work, their hope for a better future, and their place of purpose wiped out from the anger that fuels the divide in this country. Once again, lives changed in the matter of minutes.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know that anyone does, yet. What I do have is hope. Washing out my television’s image, the sunrise shined through the front window this morning. I saw slivers of the early morning colors in my living room before I stood to open the curtains. As I drew back the sheer drapes, brilliant pinks and golds streamed past the bare branches and showered me with hope, the hope that comes with a new day. Just as I watched anger unite a mob of criminals last night, I’ve witnessed pain, horror, and disbelief unite a country. After the terror of 9/11, there was a warmth strangers shared, looking at each other in the eyes, lending an ear to the individual stories that stretched from family to family, state to state, and country to country, weaving us together as a nation and a world. United by the unimaginable criminal events of a clear September morning, hope reigned then, and the optimist believes hope can reign again when we, as a nation, say “try it one more time.”

#NaBloPoMo #Ferguson

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24 thoughts on “Where there is hope…”

  1. I watched accounts of it live on tv and was stunned. You would think that over time we would learn and grow as a country and try to support one another. I cannot comprehend why you would do that. Sad that a town who was in need was the only real loss last night.

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  2. This has gnawed at me as well. One thing I do feel upset over though is the media seems to look for the violence. There were peaceful demonstrations of solidarity too, yet what they choose to show us is the destruction. Along with the questions I have of myself regarding how to be an ally to black Americans, I also feel it’s time to demand more of our media. We would all be better served if they would they would tell the whole story. Thanks Mary, I love your reservoir of hope, very inspiring.

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    1. I was horrified by the images last night and this morning, but even more so, I was sickened by the media. Like you, I, too, am asking how I can be an ally. There must be something more I can do than express myself on this blog.

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  3. It is just too hard to watch the coverage of the senseless events from start to finish. There is only pain to go around with the whole situation and it is all too sad to watch. Like you I too hope that we can try it again with a different outcome one day

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  4. I couldn’t bring myself to watch any coverage at all last night. Every single step of what happened was predictable – and preventable. I agree that the protesters and the looters were not the same people, and I also agree that hope is all we can cling to right now. It’s definitely getting harder and harder to do, though.

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  5. I wish we had answers Mary….It would be so much easier, even it no one listened to us or cared, to be able to say “here is what needs to happen” to fix what is broken not just in Ferguson but all over or country. Your beautiful words reminded me that people like you and me want to make the world right – set everything in its place and watch as the world responds by singing in perfect harmony. I don’t have that or see that right now but like you, I have to feel hopeful and we have to keep trying.

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  6. Yet another mess and proof of our lost and angry nation. Like you, I watched and read very little coverage of Ferguson — from the first news to last night’s horrors. We *have* to hope, we *have* to look for the good. And we have to pray for those hurting, regardless of who’s right, wrong or somewhere in between.

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  7. I could not agree more that the “protesters” were not the “looters” and this is a distinction that the media really needs to focus on.

    I’m happy that you woke up hopeful this morning. I wish I could say the same. These incidents are just happening too often for me to feel all that hopeful today. Something has to change, though, that’s for certain.

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  8. Beautifully written, Mary. I just hope that your hope rings true. Because our country is divided and sad and lost. Because what happened on that clear September morning, that I remember like it was yesterday, was the same but also very different. Different because Americans banded together then in the aftermath but now we rally against one another.

    Let us pray and keep hope and peace in our hearts. Blessings to all families involved.

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