I am moved to write a few words. In fact what spills out onto these keys and onto your screen is as much a raw reflection of my heart condition as a video or a face to face conversation, except this time I hope that by the end the voice reciting these words isn't solely mine, but is ours.
Yesterday I was found myself in shock and wonder as I watched a video of real life racism in the streets. Racism in my city. A man walking down the street, verbally assaulted. And my heart dropped into my stomach. You see things are different here in Canada. Things are different where I live. The tension, the drama, the hate, that's not happening here... or is it?
I ended my night around a table filled with friends and our conversation drifted back to this very topic. Again, my heart fell into my stomach as we discussed the tensions and these ideas. Our problem here in Canada, in Alberta, Canada, is that we just don't think that it's even a thing. We fail to see or recognize the problems or the issues, mainly because we do not experience them personally. We fail to recognize the deep-rooted bias that we all carry, even when you don't think you carry any at all, you do. It's impossible not to. As humans, we are predisposed to programmatic bias, which we inherit through our surroundings and circumstance. But the problem isn't with the bias. It's what you do with it.
I am on a journey towards becoming deeply aware of my own personal prejudice and bias. But it doesn't just stop at the color of our skin, or our nationality. Our judgments don't stop there. I wonder what would happen if we all took a step towards uprooting our personal judgements fueled by assumption. What if we took a moment to listen and learn. I have a problem. You have a problem. We have a problem.
While some might shrug off the events of yesterday in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, as nothing... let me remind you... it's these actions, if tolerated, which lead to an escalation, and give birth to something far more sinister. I refuse to allow that divide to grow.
I want to let you know that Engage City Church, my community, is not a bias-free place. But we are a people committed to the journey. We are committed to walking forward together, and creating an atmosphere and environment, where anyone and everyone can experience the love of God. It is time of the church, and not just my church, but every church, to acknowledge and embrace her role as ministers of reconciliation, and as catalytic agents of change. The church should be a place of safety and refuge, where we can boldly stand up and declare that no matter your journey, no matter your story, we are here to laugh with you, cry with you, and to help you move forward, stepping out of the dark into the light, towards your destiny. The church is a place of peace, because we are lead by the Prince of Peace, therefore we are called to be brokers of peace.
Brett Esslinger is a Husband, Dad, Son, Brother, Pastor, Speaker, Leader, Writer whose life goal is to help people unlock their potential and fulfill their life's purpose.
Brett is the founder of Engage City Church & the Author of #HopeNotHype