A Simple Truth
BY KATIE LACZ | September 14, 2020
A simple message has haunted me since I have seen it in various forms on social media as the uprisings against white supremacy and racial injustice have continued nationwide:
“You have stolen more than we could ever loot.”
A simple truth. A damning indictment to those on the top of the racial hierarchy (like myself). A reminder that when the destruction of a chain store garners more outrage than the destruction of a human life, we have gotten our priorities backwards—we have betrayed the Gospel.
So what does forgiveness mean in this context, where Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color have borne “seventy-seven”—far too many—instances of oppression and violence? How could I, as a benefactor of the ongoing trauma inflicted on racialized people, insist that those who have been harmed “set enmity aside,” “hate not your neighbor,” or “overlook faults,” as the author of Sirach writes in the first reading?
I wish I had a good answer. I don’t think Jesus gives us parables for answers, but to sit with uncomfortable questions. The parable in this Gospel is one of extremes. Lest we decide too quickly that the king is God in this parable, we must remember that the ruler is not entirely benevolent. The slave has incurred a debt that could not be repaid in his lifetime, and for that, the king plans to sell him and his family, and only changes his mind when the slave begs for mercy. God does not extend cruelty until we beg for kindness. That is the opposite of the psalmist’s description of God as “kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” I do not think God plans to “hand over to torturers” those who have experienced oppression and violence who have not opted for forgiveness.
This paradox of forgiveness is captured well by the Black feminist bell hooks, who writes, “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: How do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”
Forgiveness is not a decision to pretend a wrong never occurred. It is not yoked to a requirement that an abusive relationship continue. It is mystery—the grace of God transforming the wounds within us so that we have the freedom to offer love where it may, to our human minds, be least deserved. That love need not and sometimes should not be soft and fuzzy. It must be a challenging love that calls forth the best in people, believing—as bell hooks reminds us—in their capacity for transformation.
And if we are on the receiving end of such forgiveness? Heaven help us if we take it for granted. It is mystery, grace, gift—the invitation to be transformed by a love we barely comprehend.
Katie Lacz is a mother, an M.Div., and a spiritual director living outside Boulder, CO. She currently works as Program Associate for the Women’s Ordination Conference. A former Jesuit Volunteer (Raleigh ’06-’07), she continues to seek the magis while living in the messy and beautiful work of raising her two small children.
It’s not a single word or act. Forgiveness is a process. Healing is a process. Justice is a slow process for injustice has been a long and an unending process.
Another white person that thinks there above me, let me tell you straight without the sugar coat…you have no right to speak for me or above me in any imaginary structure that people say exist in our country. If anything the white oppression theory is doing more harm than anything else right now.
You are for social justice ? you are also defending criminal activity and while we are on this topic do you agree with the 9 police officers that have been shot in St Louis since June 1st ? most likely you do because you have already given the green light for looters.2 wrongs don’t make a right, it makes my race look like savages when there acting out.
It’s like you thrive on fuelling the fire more by putting this up, a black kid will see this and think it’s ok to go out and do this. Has for slavery I was never a slave or have I experienced anything similar to it neither did my parents, also just because a person is black like myself it doesn’t automatically mean that there ancestor was a slave and the same can be said when people are throwing falsely accusations about white people having slave owner ancestors.
Have you ever researched African history and the slave trade ? maybe a tiny fraction ? Yes it is true America and Europe fuelled the demand for more slaves but Africa was already practicing slavery with Arabs ( who started it way before and were the last to abolish it ) before the white men came.
Between 1300 – 1900 Early islamic states West Sudan, Ghana and Mali a third of the population were slaves
19th century Sierra Leone 50% were slaves and in Niger & Cameroon.
When Europeans got rid of the trade in Sudan, it actually made the country poor and a Islamic Mahdist force quickly restarted slavery again.
Between the Arabs, Europeans and America they added to a problem that was already in existence but once Africa countries couldn’t keep up with demand that then turned civil wars within Africa to capture people to sell/trade for coin and guns, all this started a form of arms race between countries involved in the slave trade which resulted in African countries profiting and becoming wealthy especially Benin that gained the most and it’s still common today.
Slavery has always been a problem in history and there are many examples from China, Roman, Ottoman, America, British and Plast dynasty these are just a few examples and some enslaved there own people, some for debt, some were pow’s and some were given to appease and every race has been enslaved, every race has profited .
Has a Black man we should not forget the past but we do contradict ourselves by blaming all white people for the past, we have to remember that the white people getting accused may have a ancestor that fought to abolish slavery in America, we need to stop and actually make change in the correct way and not by guilt tripping or via a white voice….
because your white voice is the problem speaking about a problem that you don’t have to deal with and your actually doing more harm by stealing a platform where a black voice should be used instead, not for you to feel good like you’ve accomplishmed something.
Signed by a intelligent black man that isn’t fooled by this work at all and don’t you dare silent my black voice.
RJ – thank you for your response and for your point that I cannot, and should not, speak for black people (or even all white people!). I meant to speak as myself, and I apologize that it was not expressed more clearly. And, you are correct to say that white voices don’t need a further platform right now. I am trying to continue to listen, to understand that there is not “one” point of view among the black community, and to reject violence in any form, whether it is against a civilian or a police officer. Thank you again, and I apologize for the pain I have caused you.
Katie, you don’t need to apologize the more we talk the more we learn from each other. I myself is not innocent we have all done something that may have affected a person or a race maybe without knowing but it’s how we all respond to improving relations.
We do it by talking and understanding why we are in this position in the first place, a crime just either adds to the problem or encourages more of the same than a cycle will occur and nothing will change. If anything it gets worse and we’re stuck with it.
What you put was your own opinion the same has my response was a opinion of my own, I’m just slightly upset regarding defending looting that’s all. All I would recommend is not to bring up the defending a crime because it only takes that one person to read it and could cause harm to innocent people and that’s the last thing I want.
Thanks again for taking the time to respond and clear things
This reflection is so meaningful to me, like a prayer itself! Thank you!
Beautifully written! Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling! How grateful I am for the many graces received – helping me to ask for forgiveness and having a forgiving heart!
How is it beautiful writing when someone that is white is defending looting ? ( a crime which has resulted in black men losing there live ) which is escalating problems with the community I live in and not fixing them also basically saying that there above me a black man because of racial hierarchy just because the writer is white, which is not the case.
Only Jesus and God is above me, no white person will ever be above me because we are equal, this isn’t last century when there was real racism and segregation and my people fought for the equality and freedom I’m blessed with today so I don’t have to.
I don’t fear for my live from police or white people, I’m more afraid from my brother within my own community. Maybe if my brothers weren’t out there commiting crimes and listened to the police when arrested we wouldn’t be discussing these problems now.
It’s all about choices a person makes not a pretend white fairytale hierarchy that does not exist, we black people can be racist look at the LA Riots in the 90’s vs Koreans, 01 vs Arabs, many decades towards Latinx and now towards white people in 2020, we are pretending to protest for equality but at the same time been racist…they even changed the term for racism in a dictionary so they had extra reasons to go out and cause problems.
When all these protest & virtue signalling stops and people slowly forget,it will be the innocent black folks that will suffer just because criminals didn’t obey police instructions. Now ask yourself this…why are certain movements trademarking names of police victims and making money of them ? Hmm interesting…..not everything is has it seems we are been tricked.
I get it and I care but looting cannot be justified
Nicely written effusive statement but totally unclear about anything even close to specific. It’s easy for us all to love everyone who harms us so long as they’re safely in prison and no longer a threat to anyone else.
When I see the picture you bothered to “re-publish” I couldn’t focus on your message. The message in the picture on the brick walls is NOT a “simple truth.” It is an action taken that should never be perpetuated and endorsed by anyone who really cares about all others. Do you want your children growing up thinking this sort of thing is ok to do to others? Is it ok/good to destroy what people have worked hard for? Does this message build up life? Is it ok to have someone do this to your property?By printing the picture of this wrongful misdeed you are perpetuating anger and carelessness. If you get caught up in doing the right thing when wrong things are happening in the world it would make for a better future. Why not start with prayer for those who are hurt and have been hurt? Also realize that every human has been and will be hurt at some time in their lives. Jesus Christ transformed suffering and hatred into love beyond words and he asks us to do the same. Be who God made you to be and not manipulated or manipulating.
Hi Elaine – I’m grateful you took the time to respond. Thanks for pointing out the complexity of the situation, which perhaps was lost by calling it a “simple truth” — of course, destruction is wrong, but when we are focusing on the destruction of property over the destruction of the lives of people like Jacob Blake, or George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, or Daniel Prude, I just want to suggest that we are prioritizing the wrong element of the realities we’re facing as a country. The photo was meant to be a provocative way to reflect on the reality that the effects of racist systems over centuries has meant that Black people have lost generational wealth and opportunities for advancement, and live with a general lack of safety as they go about their daily lives that I cannot experience as a white person. I’m sorry if that message got lost.
I also want to gently remind that the vast majority of protesters in these cities have been peacefully calling for justice. And I am sitting with the discomfort I feel when I read Martin Luther King’s quote, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Thanks again for the comment – I appreciate the opportunity for conversation.
It is good to have conversation. That people have been hurt, suffered cruelty from others who are just like them as having been made in the image and likeness of God is obvious. We suffer when others suffer whether people want to believe that or not. You mention “the destruction of lives of people” and then go on to list 4 names which bring to print current issues and say we ” are prioritizing the wrong elements of the realities we are facing as a country.” Really? Let’s just stay on track with that thought. What I mean is that millions of black and brown babies lives are destructed/thoughtlessly ended by their own “mothers” and abortionists. Black people are killing their own innocents most cruelly. They and others who have abortions are “looting” their babies lives. Where is the black population when it comes to taking the lives of the most innocent by the thousands daily? It seems they strongly support Planned Parenthood and any place that will end the life begun in their wombs. Definitely not just black people are doing this but the percentage is extremely high for the black people considering their population as a whole. People need to be treated with love and compassion and they speak about police brutality but their own brutality to their own unborn should speak to them first. If people realized the eugenicist that Margaret Sanger was and the hideous plan she had to rid the nation/world of the marginalized and “unwanted” they would protest in the manner we see now on the streets and instead go to protest at Planned Parenthood and all abortion centers. Somehow love has to enter in to all of this. And it does when all life is respected/loved from the moment of conception til natural death. Thanks for listening Katie.
Has a Black man there is no racist system within the US that ended last century and I enjoy the same rights and freedom just like everybody else, it was white people that brought back that saying in modern times about the racist system not black people. Like I said previously I’m comfortable around police because I know how to behave and listen just like any responsible person would in a situation, you don’t resist, go to grab something or charge a police officer –
Imagine if those 4 names you mentioned ( apart from Prude/Taylor circumstances were unfortunate ) things were different, different how you ask ?
Floyd although high was paranoid when the police attempted to place him in the vehicle and was offered many alternatives to make him comfortable and he rejected all and agreed to sit on the floor but started to resist police. But for a officer to be present with experience I do feel that police should par take in longer training and programs that teach more about how to actually restrain a individual in a humane way.
– This does not defend the police has I feel that the police officer responsible should be judged by the law and not by us. We are not judge or jury. But what if Floyd didn’t resist ?
Blake – police were warned prior that Blake was known to attack and resist with police and was wanted on a warrant, it is true he did not have a knive on him, but he did admit that there was a gun in the vehicle ( which children were inside ) and he was going to get it ( audio is proof of this ) he ignored and resisted numerous times and went to reach in the vehicle.
– Again the police should of looked in to restraining Blake before he got anywhere near inside the vehicle but were scared to do this which would of prevented is injury. But Blake should of listened and was given so many warnings and I feel he escalated the situation by ignoring the police. What if Blake stayed away from the vehicle?
Prude – Spit hoods should be discontinued and never used on anybody, this was the police not be trained enough to deal with people with mental health problems and using unnecessary techniques which are outdated by todays standards. Prude did not do any crimes and hopefully this changes how police deal with mental health calls in the future.
– Believe it or not I think police should add MMA in to there training, it can help by been more aware and it can also help by giving techniques that can restrain a person without the need of over bearing force.
Taylor – Has we know this was a no knock warrant issued at the address due to a old flame but nothing was found after, the problem was when the officers entered the property they say there were fired upon first with the police retaliating. Taylor was caught in the crossfire and was a innocent live lost but this could of been prevented.
– my problem with this is the police would of staked this property for months and they would have knowledge of those entering and leaving, they have stopped the no knock warrants and are working with Taylors family and others in the community on how this won’t happen in the future.
But are we the public judging want we don’t understand, and under estimating what police deal with. We aren’t the ones out there protecting the community and most of us will never even be in that situation on deciding how to deal with criminals, imagine having to deal with someone and only having seconds knowing that in your head it’s right but your heart wrong and the end result you could be the criminal while trying do the right thing. It’s not easy.
Did you know a neighbor made a false domestic abuse call on a neighbor just because he was been loud on a game and he phoned numerous times saying there were arguments etc, when the police knocked on the owner rushed out with a gun and was fired upon. The person was white it happens to every race.
Police deaths this year 200, 4 were 9/11 cancer, 110 were Covid, 21 were vehicle related and then 38 via gunfire by criminals ( which don’t include past week ) – 54 of the police officers were Black. Just let that sink in a bit.
MLK daughter has said that people are misinterpreting that quote and don’t understand what it means and generally taking liberty to suit there own agenda when they quote her father, this one and the famous “Dream quote” are the ones that were brought up. MLK also said a lot about white liberels and white people that pretend to help just to suit there own agenda and propaganda but again there could be misunderstanding on my part.