Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Sign of Hope

(Gentle Readers: For only the second time in this blog's history, someone else is writing today's post. This was written by my friend Belinda Burston who has joined in on the Black Armband campaign. Thanks to Belinda for this ...)

A Sign of Hope

I’ve been wearing a black armband in solidarity with others mourning the death of Brent Martin for three days.

But I confess that when I first read the story of Brent’s death, I felt a little like the man who called Dave on his cell phone yesterday; overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s sorrow and wondering how protesting one death could make a difference.

That was before I read Dave’s post, Brent a Brother, about the middle aged black lady, who’d said that she wanted a world, “Where you don’t hurt a brother.” Her words made me feel ashamed of my helpless attitude and I was in.

The next morning, Sunday, I wore my armband to church. I taught a Sunday School class of 16 children aged 6-10 years old, including 4 of my grandchildren, that God created everyone equal and precious for who they are, regardless of difference.

When I veered from the curriculum and told them why I was wearing a black arm band, I saw eyes light up with interest and curiosity. They responded with open hearts.

“How did they do it?” one boy wanted to know. I exhaled slowly at a question I’d hoped they wouldn’t ask, but they deserved an honest answer.

“With their fists.” I said. The kid’s faces were sober. Then they began to talk about taunts they’d experienced for small differences; this was something they could relate to and it mattered to them. Spontaneously they volunteered ideas of what they could do. One girl said her aunt could write about it in the paper. I asked them several times if they remembered his name and their voices chanted, “Brent.”

I told them it was important to remember.

Frances, my friend, came into the class and her face screwed up in concern at the sight of the arm band. When she read the article I’d brought with me she gasped in horror and disappeared, returning soon afterwards with a fuzzy black hair scrunchy on her arm. “How could I not?” she asked.

The next day I went to the office wearing my arm band on a white blouse. Was it Canadian politeness or did they think it was a new fashion accessory? We were all busy, and no one asked…

Today I did an interview and had a meeting…no one asked…I wanted someone to ask.

But tonight, a gathering of friends at our house for dinner and finally someone asked, “What’s with the arm band?” and I handed them the article with the story and told them.

With us at the table were two of the grandchildren who’d been in the class on Sunday. I asked them if they remembered his name.

Tiffany-Amber’s gentle eyes squinted as she tried to remember. “I wrote it down,” she said, and I loved her for doing that.

And her younger sister Victoria called out, “I remember. His name was Brent.”

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the innocence of children. Thank you for teaching and explaining this to them because if only one child keeps this with him/her throughout his/her life then Brent's death was not in vain.

lina said...

We could all learn from our children. One person at a time, I know I don't always agree or perhaps believe, but Dave's right - one person at a time - we must never forget - it's all of our responsibility.
Very well put Belinda, thanks for sharing your experience as well.

Anonymous said...

What article are you giving out to people??

I would love to have it on hand because I am soo not eloquent and usually end up in tears again trying to re-tell Brents' story.

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say I hadn't thought of a scrunchie as an armband. I've been lighting a candle each day but tomorrow I will wear one of my black scrunchies - thank you for the idea Belinda

Belinda said...

Hi Anonymous Friend, the article I found on a BBC website by Googling the name Brent Martin. I made some copies to give to people.

And today two people actually asked me why I was wearing the black arm band. The ripple spreads.

Joyful Fox said...

Children are our future...they are the citizens of tomorrow.

For them to know the value of life...a gift...to be honoured, not taken...

For children to know love, kindness, truth, patience, gentleness, joy...peace

...to hear from those who have walked now where they one day will...is our responsibility...as community, as pilgrims on this earth...

"For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

...by telling the children, perhaps then and only then...murder will stop...the beating of someone who can neither help you, or hurt you, will cease.

I weep, Belinda...for Brent Martin...and for the many, like Brent Martin, who have no one to mourn...to protest...to care

and for this one, Brent Martin, I rejoice, and thank the Lord for Dave Hingsburger...who took the time, energy, and spirit to care...to protest, and to stand up for love of a fellow human being.

May we, as parents, Sunday School teachers, and other child educators tell the children about Brent.

Thanks Belinda for sharing, for taking up the campaign.

Mieke said...

Can't help thinking of these beautful biblical words: what you have done for he least important or weakest person, you have done it for Me.