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In a scene that's become all too familiar, Jacob Blake's parents held a press conference yesterday to speak about the shooting of their son by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They spoke about his condition since the shooting, the damage done to his body, and the tensions gripping the country.
But just as the nation is divided, with partisan concerns hanging heavy over so many conversations, the message from Blake's mother and the one delivered by his father could not have been more different. They exemplify the injured state of our nation.
Julia Jackson, Blake's mother, spoke about the need for unity, and to put a stop to the divisiveness and tribalism that has taken hold of the US.
Her message appealed to the hearts and minds of viewers, as she spoke about what brings us together, our humanity. Despite the tragedy that had befallen not only her family but her city, she drew together elements of faith, compassion, and reason.
"Do Jacob justice on this level," she said, "an examine your hearts. We need healing. As I pray for my son, healing—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—I also have been praying, even before this, for the healing of our country.
"God has placed each and every one of us in this country because he wanted us to be here. Clearly you can see by now that I have beautiful brown skin. But take a look at your hands, and whatever shade it is, it is beautiful as well.
"How dare we hate what we are, we are human. God did not make one type of tree, or flower, or fish, or horse, or grass, or rock. How dare you ask him to make one type of human that looks just like you. I'm not talking to just Caucasian people, I am talking to everyone."
"No one is superior to the other," she said. "The only supreme being is God himself. Please, let's begin to pray for healing for our nation. We are the United States, have we been united? Do you understand what's going to happen when we fall?
"Because a house that is against each other cannot stand. To all of the police officers, I'm praying for you and your families. To all of the citizens, my black and brown sisters and brothers, I'm praying for you. I believe that you are an intelligent being just like the rest of us.
Everybody—let's use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other. America is great when we behave greatly."
Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr., had a completely different perspective. Where Jackson spoke about the beauty of humanity, bringing together what unites us as a human race, Blake spoke of racial mistrust.
When asked if he trusted the process, he said "No, I do not, I do not have the confidence in anybody that is white, that is doing an investigation about a black young man that was shot seven times in his back that hasn't come up with a an answer of a comment at this point is not welcome," he said, his voice angry.
The contrast between Blake's parents, his mother calling for the nation to heal, his father stating his inherent mistrust of the nation's judicial tools, is the conflict we are facing as a nation.
There is anger and outrage, and people across the country have used those emotions to fuel a violent rage that has destroyed lives, businesses, both public and private property.
But there is also a longing for this mayhem to come to an end, for the partisan voices to dispense with their incessant narrative shaping, to address and recognize our humanity, and to heal.
As there is division in our families, and in our nation, we would do well to heed the words of Julia Jackson, and understand that the American experiment is not only about those of us who are here, by God's grace, but about being a beacon of unity and liberty not despite differences, but because of them.