In mid-June, we felt the horror of racism as nine people were killed in South Carolina in their house of worship. As we were horrified, so were we given an opportunity to reflect. We heard each other's reflections in the form of emotions expressed in social media and in the streets.
While other acts of racism make us angry, there was something about the Mother Emanuel shootings that touched us more deeply. Was it the location, a setting usually held as safe ground? Was it that the confessed murderer sat with his victims for a long time before he pulled his weapon? Was it that he sought them out at their most prayerful and vulnerable moment?
We tried to make sense of it. We tried to explain it and find the reasons for it. We looked at flags, gun control and mental illness. The answers were not in those arguments.
As we faced the horror, we faced ourselves. Is this crap still going on around us? How many times had we chosen to look the other way? How many times had we allowed prejudice through our passivity? Would we forgive others? Could we forgive ourselves?
It was a lot to consider.
Before the dead were buried, we felt the impact of another event. There was an international celebration to honor the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in defense of same-sex marriage. Major monuments were decked out in rainbow colors and spontaneous parties emerged.
While we celebrated, it was, again, time for soul-searching. The same questions came up. How had we contributed to the bias, and how will we do better?
These events got our attention because of their magnitude, but smaller versions of these situations happen every day.
We see them. We reflect on them. We find ourselves in them.
Always, we face ourselves.