Apple Maps is pretty much the best thing ever for road-trippers like us. It’s replaced our clunky old TomTom GPS and has the ability to reroute based on real-time traffic conditions. Our best intentions for a route sometimes change due to the unforeseen.
I’ve been rerouting on a personal level lately, specifically since March. COVID-19 brought school closures and shelter-at-home. For a couple of months, we’ve adjusted our behavior and thinking in order to stay safe and healthy. Sacrifice and flexibility have been key. After some growing pains, we eventually fell into a good routine.
Then came the firestorm of racial tensions upon the arrest of the men who shot jogger Armaud Arbery in February. Next was the shocking broad-daylight murder of George Floyd, who was asphyxiated in the street by a police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Between the deaths associated with the pandemic and these unjust killings, America has had an awful spring.
Americans are called to reroute in the face of disease and hatred and the associated political pandering. It’s a lot to process, but we must do so and then move forward in a new way. We must reframe our thinking to decide what our actions will reveal about us to the world. Where do we stand on issues of public health and social justice?
I want to look back in my old age and feel confident I did the right things in the name of humanity.
As a white woman, I’m still finding my voice as an ally to my fellow Americans of color. It’s not easy. My clumsy foray into this arena has meant rerouting from my normal path of going about business as usual. Suddenly, I’m advocating in ways that make me uncomfortable sometimes. New things often have this effect. But each step forward fills me with hope and empowerment.
I’ve unfriended and unfollowed on social media, deciding that any offense my digital detachment might bring is worth doing the right thing. My family and I attended a protest in my hometown on Sunday, bearing signs we made at the dining room table as we talked about race issues. We made a donation to Be the Bridge, an organization focused on empowering “people and culture toward racial healing, equity and reconciliation.”
I’ve used my personal social media accounts, author platform, and personal blog to share the message that black lives matter. They matter a lot to me and to my family. The process of rerouting to share this new content was borne of my desire to see justice done and the notion that every person is created in the image of God.
My children are watching. They need to see their parents take a stand for truth, extending love and kindness to people who are different from themselves. We can’t just circle the wagons in our own little bubbles. That might fool us into thinking that showing kindness and compassion only when it’s comfortable is acceptable in the eyes of God.
So we continue rerouting, finding new ways to navigate the life that was ordinary and predictable before March 2020. Do what you can in earnest with love and humility, and you won’t go wrong. It will feel awkward and uncomfortable–that’s just the nature of new territory.
If enough of us reroute and move forward toward justice and healing, 2021 will be a whole lot better than 2020 is shaping up to be so far. How will you choose to use your influence?
Tracy is a New Jersey writer who loves Earl Grey tea, spending time outside, and painting. She lives with her husband and children in a home where birdsong and rainstorms provide the soundtrack for her creative life.