This past Friday, between articles in the Minneapolis newspaper, Facebook updates from folks I know who live and work in North Minneapolis, and a phonecall from a friend, I’m still left wondering why.
Why was a 76-year old woman, who dedicated her life to living out her faith and conviction, attempting to make the world a little better place, in her eyes, so brutally and violently killed? Anger isn’t the appropriate word here; numbness is. I’m completely numb, to fathom anyone who might view her as a threat in any way, whether she was killed for her conviction, or maybe because she trusted the wrong people a little too much. It’s just another one of the dark realities of urban neighborhoods like North Minneapolis – gang violence, poverty, low income people, etc. Maybe she was a bit too pushy; pushed the wrong buttons…I’m sure there’s enough speculation as to why she was murdered. That’s not the issue in my head; that’s not why I’m asking “why?”
I’m trying to grasp my head a world where such darkness exists, and for the most part, why it seems to be background noise in our life today. I know lots of people, good people, die violent deaths everyday. But this one is sticking with me for some reason. Perhaps it’s because I live in North Minneapolis now, and know this is a serious and horrible reality in what is a neighborhood that has good, honest people in it. Perhaps a “lightbulb” has come on in my head, and this has randomly sparked something in me. I simply don’t know. But for some reason, I’m asking “why?” for me – why such darkness seems to move through our worlds, generally unnoticed, and not affecting us in any way.
Here’s the truth: I’m just like most of you reading this. I never knew Lois. I never even met her. All I know is from these articles, and tidbits I’ve heard from stories. I also serve a very suburban congregation in the Twin Cities Metro area. So Lois’ violent death – her murder – is something very distant from me. It should be background noise. But I don’t want it to be. And I don’t want it to be for a lot of the people who live in my very suburban congregation. I don’t want them to see this as just another story of what happens in North Minneapolis. But yet, I’m not sure “why” this matters for those so disconnected from a place like North Minneapolis – in culture, way of life, economic status, and so on.
I do know this: Lois’ story isn’t to highlight and push people to the cause of justice. Kneejerk reactions, and action that comes out of those reactions, won’t help people in North Minneapolis. Criticisms won’t help either. Solutions are tough and complex, just like the issues and problems.
But I want to know “why” – why should this matter to people in the suburbs at all? Is it simply “background noise” or is there something in sharing this dark, dark tragedy that needs to be raised in suburban communities? I want to know from those of you, especially those who live and serve in surburban contexts: Why does this matter? Should we raise tragedies like Lois’ in our communities at all?
God’s presence be with you in your wrestling around this…I’m still struggling on whether this is something that needs to be brought into my suburban community at all. I know I hope and pray for God’s presence in this….my struggle, and in the darkness surrounding Lois’ murder.