BY ANDREW TAYLOR-TROUTMAN, Columnist
Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross formatted her five-stage principle of grief after a long time of counseling dying sufferers and their households. After the demise of George Floyd, America has witnessed the collective grief of the African-American neighborhood, and the stage that has been most outstanding is anger.
Anger is commonly regarded as the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the floor of anger is ache. At a demise, notably a violent one, anger is neither misplaced nor inappropriate. Anger is an expression of that deep ache.
In seminary, I studied the phases of grief. I additionally studied the Psalms — a set of 150 hymns of historical Israel that categorical a variety of human feelings, together with rage. Essentially the most dramatic instance is present in Psalm 137: “Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks!”
The psalmist uttered this curse after Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem. Lots of the Israelites had been slaughtered. The survivors had been compelled into slavery in a international land. Psalm 137 represents the ache of a neighborhood that has skilled this nationwide trauma. We may anticipate grief to look extra just like the opening verse of Psalm 137: By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept after we remembered Zion. However anger can also be part of grief.
As a part of the method, anger must be expressed. Not repressed. To disclaim anger doesn’t make it disappear. The good poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes, provocatively requested: What occurs to a dream deferred? Does it explode?
That is an explosive time. We are able to anticipate protesters to channel their anger in constructive methods which don’t result in the violence of collateral injury. And but, we should not deny the anger, for that is to disclaim the ache.
This denial is the rationale that many African People categorical frustration with the All Lives Matter motion. In fact all lives matter. However the present trauma is from the lack of Black lives — these slaughtered unjustly by authorities. To fail to acknowledge this level is to disclaim the grief of a neighborhood.
Maybe by saying “all lives matter,” sure well-intentioned individuals enchantment to the ultimate stage of the Kubler-Ross principle: acceptance. At this stage, a mourner finds a way of closure. He is ready to transfer on. She finds a brand new dream.
However as Hughes put it, a dream deferred is a false closure. This isn’t acceptance however injustice. I’m reminded of the prophet Jeremiah, who was alive across the identical time that Psalm 137 was written: Everybody offers falsely. They’ve handled the wound of my individuals carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there isn’t any peace (Jeremiah 6:13).
Correctly understood, the Black Lives Matter motion displays a current growth within the principle of grief — stage six. This stage is to seek out which means. To search out which means is to not deny the ache, however to claim a brand new objective within the aftermath of loss. It’s to make clear targets and values. To work towards transformation.
Making which means out of the deaths of Black women and men is evidenced by quite a lot of social-justice initiatives resembling police reform, reasonably priced housing, dwelling wages and common well being care.
That is an explosive time. However I discover hope prior to now. Psalm 137 was not the ultimate phrase within the Outdated Testomony. After years of figuring out the grief, ache and anger of his neighborhood, one other prophet may have a look at the identical collective trauma and discover which means: I may also make you a lightweight for the Gentiles, that my salvation may attain to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).
Isaiah affirmed the actual lives of a smaller neighborhood mattered — these lives that had suffered persecution. Solely then may all lives matter.
Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the pastor of Chapel within the Pines Presbyterian Church and creator of Gently Between the Phrases: Essays and Poems. He’s at present working from house along with his spouse and three kids.