When There Are No Words, You Find the Words

george floydNo words.

That’s not a comfortable place for someone like me who tends to use all the words, whether welcomed or not, and believes that the power of words can change nations, build bridges, and heal brokenness.

Yet, as I watched recent events unfold, I found myself speechless while watching as both words and actions instead divided a nation, tore down bridges, and created even more brokenness. I grieved for George Floyd’s family and watched the video multiple times. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I never wanted to forget the feeling I felt when I watched that video. I never wanted to forget being speechless.

As mothers, though, we don’t get the luxury of sitting in our silence too long. If we don’t say something, the outside voices will beat us to the punch and overpower the wisdom we must try to provide, so I tried to make sense of the senseless and offer some sort of guidance in the wake of tragedy. Here is where I landed.

It’s okay to be saddened at the destruction of property and not understand how it has come to this, but it’s not okay to sit in that space and that space alone. Focus on the outrage you felt at the inexcusable loss of life — that is where solutions are found. Educate yourself on why people are so angry.

Don’t be fooled by someone else’s narrative, no matter how well thought out it sounds. You know right from wrong. Your moral compass will guide you and then, use that to have the right discussions to influence change. If you look around and all the voices you hear sound like yours, you’re likely missing the mark. Find some new voices.

Understand your privilege. Even as I write the word privilege, I know it strikes feelings in some of you reading this. You want to defend all the wrong that has been done to you in your life. The simple idea that you may have been born ten steps ahead of the person of color next to you when you’ve struggled in so many ways causes you to lash out. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I don’t. I tell my children all the time they were born into privilege, and it is their responsibility to use that for the good of those who weren’t.

For years, I naively wanted my kids to be colorblind because I didn’t know how wrong my thinking was. Luckily, there are people in my life who lovingly helped me understand that acknowledging people of color, and understanding their struggle, is how we affect change. It brings perspective to the anger and hurt in that community. We can’t relate, but we can attempt to see the struggle through their eyes.

Fight for those who either can’t fight for themselves or are simply tired of fighting. Don’t ever become numb to the injustices in this world. Feel it, and then take that feeling, drown out all of the noise surrounding it, and be the change you want to see.

Then, I got to the end of all this and realized what I think is the most critical of all. The advice above applies to me. Maybe even more so. Our children are watching. We can talk to them and say all the right things, but we must lead by example.

Christie Pettus
Christie Pettus is a full time working wife and mother living her suburban cul de sac dream in Orange Park, Fl. She is Mom to two awesome teenagers, McKenzie and Ethan, who have come to accept that certain parts of their lives will be blogged about, so they should act accordingly. As graduates of the University of Florida, she and her husband Ryan can be found rooting on their alma mater every chance they get including the more obscure sports. LaCrosse anyone? When she’s not judging her kids' questionable teenage choices, she can be found hiding in a room buried in a good book or writing, editing, and dreaming about being a full-time author.


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