Do All Lives Really Matter?

To all my white, Christian friends, I want to tell you a story. I once worked for a company that considered itself a Christian business. I, as I am most places, was a bit different from the norm. If you had visited my office, you would have found the lights out in a room lit by a lava lamp and salt rock. I had all my eighties memorabilia adorning the bookshelves in all its rightful glory and one of the best Marvel office collections around.

My staff loved to hang out in my office. Other managers told stories of my office around the company. Once, an Orkin guy came to spray the building. When he got to my office, he stopped, called his brother, and asked if he could take pictures of my original Nintendo I had set up in the office. I’m talking about the original, deluxe set up with the Robot gyroscope, gun, and all.

Another thing my staff loved was the music. I had Pandora on the entire time I was at work. More often than not, my computer played the classic hits from my 70s channel or my 80s channel.

Once a month, my boss would show up to do a visit and rate the business metrics. On one particular occasion, he sat down in my office, and apparently notice my Pandora station did not play any commercials. He looked up from his iPad and said, “You have a paid subscription to Pandora?” “Yes,” I replied. He then made a statement that sadly did not shock me based on my years of history with him. He stated, “You know they support Black Lives Matter.” I looked at him and asked, “OK?” He went on, “I didn’t know that. When I found out, I canceled my Pandora subscription. I try to remember to tell everyone I know that has a subscription that I canceled mine because they support it. I thought you’d like to know so you can cancel yours as well.”

I share this story to illustrate the dichotomy between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Through the events following the death of George Floyd, I have seen a proliferation of rebuttals to Black Lives Matter by my fellow white people with All Lives Matter. This morning, I saw a post from a pastor I respect pushing the All Lives Matter mantra.

I’m exhausted. I wish my fellow white Americans could get this. Saying, “All Lives Matter,” as a response to Black Lives Matter does not make you better than others or some great humanitarian. It’s also nonsensical.

Black Lives Matter is also not antithetical to All Lives Matter. Can we agree that black lives are part of all lives? Let me say, if we can’t get that far in agreement, we have more significant issues than this post is going to discuss. But for the sake of this conversation at the least, let’s conclude that black lives are part of all lives. If someone says, “Black Lives Matter,” and you believe that all lives matter, there should not be an argument here as black lives are part of all lives. You can agree that black lives matter without saying all lives matter.

The problem is, All Lives Matter comes off as a dog whistle. Some of the people I see post All Lives Matter also post things like “Blues Lives Matter.” There are two problems with this. If you tell someone All Lives Matter in response to Black Lives Matter, you are asking them to be inclusive – they should include all people in their fight – they should use “All” instead of “Black.” But then, you turn around and post something like Blue Lives Matter showing that you do believe a label can differentiate a cause. Do Blue Lives Matter? Of course. Are blue lives not part of all lives? Of course. However, when you call it wrong for one group to say their lives matter, then you single out another group, it’s hypocritical.

Also, if you are willing to say All Lives Matter, Blues Lives Matter, or Unborn Lives Matter, but are unwilling to say or acknowledge Black Lives Matter, it comes off as if there is only one word in the “Lives Matter” slogan you have an issue with – Black.

Now is the time to listen, not lecture. If you genuinely believe that all lives matter, then black lives matter. You don’t have to cancel it out. There are times when people just need to be heard. Hurting people don’t need to be corrected all the time. Sometimes, they just need someone to understand, even if that understanding is made up at the start.

I am begging you, please, stop with the All Lives Matter right now. Especially pastors. It’s not helping. I see it over and over, and it makes me wonder if all lives really do matter. Be the light. Be the hands and feet. Jesus listened. He had compassion. Let’s try to do the same.

The Heart Inside You

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My kid, like his father, is a movie watcher. Also, like me, he watches the same movies over and over again. He makes his old man proud, loving all my favorites. From Star Wars to Marvel to thirty-year-old Disney movies, I have found my partner in motion picture appreciation. While it is quickly being replaced by, “Coco,” his latest fixation has found itself in nonstop replays of Disney’s “Moana.”

While few can resist the lure of a Disney/Pixar movie, this was a particularly fun movie for me. I am a lifelong WWF/WWE fan. So, The Rock playing the role of Maui was a delightful aspect to this movie. In this story, Moana Waialiki, the daughter of the village chief, must locate Maui, a demi-god, who has brought a curse upon the sea over 1,000 years ago by stealing the Heart of Te Fiti – the mother island that possesses the power to create life and brings other isles into existence. Once Maui, a shape-shifter, acquires his magical fish hook, he and Moana set off to face Te Ka, a demon of lava and fire which rises from the sea like a volcano, who guards the island.

Maui fails to defeat Te Ka, sacrificing his magical fish hook to ensure Moana a chance to deliver the heart to the island. Upon arrival, Moana discovers the entire island of Te Fiti is missing, replaced by the shape of the goddess gouged beneath the water. Looking back, Moana notices a spiral symbol on Te Ka’s chest as it rages and understands. Holding the heart in the air, she attracts the attention of Te Ka in an attempt to save Maui’s life. Moana instructs the ocean to allow Te Ka to come to her and she walks to meet Te Ka face-to-face.

What Moana has come to realize is that Te Ka, the rage-filled monster, full of anger, hate, and destruction is actually the goddess Te Fiti herself. The backstory here is Te Fiti was once full of love, and that love manifested itself in her giving her heart to others through her creation of islands, the wind, flowers, trees, and all the other things the seafaring people of the South Pacific loved. However, Te Fiti’s heart was taken from her. That those she loved stole her heart changed and transformed her over time from the loving, giving beautiful goddess of creation to the fiendish legend known and feared as Te Ka.

Pixar is a master of placing the feels in their movies. Each outing to a Pixar movie almost guarantees a tug at the heartstrings at the very least. However, this movie in particular was different for me. I know what it is like to have your heart stolen from inside you. I know what it is like to have your heart taken from someone you loved and gave your all. I am sure many of you do too. How many of us have allowed the pain of what someone did to us or took from us turn into a hate-fill, raging, bitter monster?

When those we love wrong us, it causes significant damage to us, and we react in different ways. Having my heart stolen from me sent me into a full-blown spiral. I was drowning, and I pulled anyone who tried to help me under the water as well. The danger of becoming a monster was real. I was blessed that hate and rage did not transform me, but it took years waiting for my Moana to come along and restore my heart.

Our lives, our hearts, revolve around whatever we place at its center. If we set a job at the center of our lives and we lose our job, our world falls apart. If we place a person at the center of our lives and that person leaves or is taken from us, our heart breaks and our world falls apart. Anytime we place something of this world at the center of our lives, we run the risk of losing our heart. There is only one constant that will never leave or forsake us. That constant is God, and when you place Him at the center of your life, it does not matter if the other things go or are taken. Your foundation remains firm because all those things are not the center of what makes up your world.

I learned this lesson the hard way. Granted, I was blessed to have a foundation in the Word and a surrounding of friends to keep me from that road. So, I did not become a bitter monster, filled with rage and toxicity destroying all in my path. But I know people who have. I am sure you do as well. Ta Ka was fortunate enough to have someone like Moana who was brave enough to confront her and restore what was taken from her. I will never have what was taken from me returned. It is lost forever. The best I can do is pass on to others what I have learned.

Much like my last post which discussed the hidden things people go through that lead to suicide, we need to be like Moana. Brave enough, caring enough, and willing to get involved in the lives of people. Don’t let people in your life suffer alone, wallow in their pain alone, do life alone. What happens if, like me, they never get their “heart” back? They will need someone like you to lead them out of that dark place to find a new purpose in their life. We need to be reminded, as Moana reminds Te Fiti, “They may have  stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you.” Be willing to cross the ocean and take on the monsters of this world affecting the lives of others. Make the world a better, brighter place.