#AllLivesMatter is the insensible cry of a body that has grown numb to its own self.
A healthy body is one in conversation with itself. The different parts of our body are constantly talking to each other, a conversation routed in part through the more than 100 trillion neural connections in the brain. When that conversation is interrupted — when we lose feeling in a limb, or when there is a short-circuit in our central nervous system — bad things happen.
The other day I imagined a man who thoughtlessly placed his right hand on the red-hot surface of a stove.
“Hey, something’s wrong here,” the right hand said to the rest of the body. “Please remove me from this stove. #RightHandsMatter.”
When the left hand heard this, it waved itself dismissively. “#AllHandsMatter,” it said.
“This is getting too hot,” said the right hand, a little louder this time. “#RightHandsMatter!”
The left hand scoffed, offended. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. #AllHandsMatter. Why are you asking for special treatment?”
“Because I’m the one being held to the stove, and I can’t take it much longer! #RightHandsMatter!”
The metaphor isn’t a perfect one, in part because there is an extent to which the left hand (white privilege) is actually holding the right hand (people of color) to the fire. But it reminds me of one of the images the Apostle Paul used to describe the Body of Christ:
“Your body has many parts — limbs, organs, cells — but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
The story of the left and right hands also reminds me that passively accepting the violence against our black brothers and sisters is tantamount to committing it. (This is me looking in the mirror. I don’t think I’ve written about this topic before. I certainly haven’t been in the streets over it.)
It reminds me of one of the most chilling quotes from Dr. King: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
And it reminds me that it is unreasonable to expect the “right hand” to “take it” much longer. The body doesn’t seem to be getting the message. Can we blame our brothers and sisters for speaking with increased urgency? Their very lives are depending on it.