Damar Hamlin and our systems of dehumanization

I was not going to comment on Damar Hamlin. I am picking and choosing when I speak much more carefully now, and I know people who know me well know my silence is not for lack of care or paying attention. However, now I feel called speak because it continues a theme I have been trying to gain attention to: how toxic our dehumanized systems are to our bodies and spirits.

I am so incredibly upset about Damar Hamlin. My heart also immediately went out to everyone on the scene watching him collapse, having to be intubated on the field, and their feeling of powerlessness to the moment. That is trauma.

It is horrifying it took the NFL so long to call the game. The inability of these systems to see athletes as humans is so outrageous. And to not see the other athletes and coaches affected by the fall of an athlete as human as well. No, we cannot go on when one of our friends falls.

Football is known for this and has been known for a long time. The disparity in outrage over an athlete taking a knee in protest of police brutality while continuing to let players who have sexually abused or assaulted people carry on has been on my mind for a long time. We are finally to the point where people are willing to disrupt the status quo. We are way past time for this, but past time is better than never calling it out.

PantSuit Politics inspired this post. I like how Beth said this should give us pause in all work environments. If someone in our office goes down, for whatever reason, we should not be expected to immediately go back to work. Sarah brought up Richard Rohr and prophecy. It is funny how people of faith talk so little of prophecy when scripture is full of prophecy. Rohr says a prophet is not a person foretelling the future; they are people disrupting the status quo with the truth they see in the current moment.

I think about how much I was trying to raise awareness in seminary about the need for higher anthropology in our theology. People are not walking out of church because they do not believe in God anymore; at least, it is not the biggest reason I am hearing from my experience or from what I am reading. People are leaving because they do not believe the church cares about them. Achieving a means to an end is more important than tending to someone who has fallen and needs attention. This is in both conservative and progressive churches. Even those who have the person fall and feel powerless need time to process their emotions too.

Being human is a brutifal experience, and we need to be able to feel all of it. We do not need the shame of being told we are sinners until we find God. God is healing us from the sins that are telling us this. There are so few guarantees in life. We lose everything we love eventually. Being able to be human, and human together, is the only thing that will live on–even after we are gone. We remember people’s words, love, comfort and care. We may also remember when people were not that as well.

As long as there is breath in our bodies we can change. It is okay to change your mind.

I was reading an article on Oscar Romero in seminary. He is known as a hero in the Salvadoran Civil War. A woman who was speaking about him said what she finds most heroic about Romero is not the work he did speaking out against injustice; it is the fact he changed his mind to get there. In the beginning, he was on the side of the empire. He listened to the prophets and changed his mind.

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