“Black Lives Matter” and “In this house, we believe…” signs proliferate the main drags and side streets of my community. It is often not enough to have one of each sign in a yard; many homes plant several at the very edge of their tree lawns. It has begun to look like whoever can get their sign closest to the curb can claim victory as the most just in the neighborhood.
On our community website, one person even went so far as to ask, “What does this say about the people who don’t have signs in their yards?”
I thought long and hard about that. Because we believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of race, and we denounce injustices based on the color of someone’s skin. But we don’t have a sign in our yard. Our sign to others is treating everyone with the same dignity as we would expect to receive, helping people who are oppressed and speaking out against racist and other wrong behavior we might encounter.
In addition, we don’t put a “We believe” sign in our yard, because we already have a mantra that speaks to it, and it comes from our Catholic faith. What’s more, our mantra goes well beyond the sign, as it speaks to the dignity of all human life, from the very beginning to the natural end.
I understand the feeling of desperation in times like this to decry what is perceived as grievous slights against humanity. And yet, I have found myself drawing closer and closer to my faith in addressing these issues. “Love one another as I have loved you.” That would make a great sign! But it is also a call to action that is more powerful than words on cardboard.
If we live our lives in such a way that extends love without looking at skin color or economic background or any other factors that can divide us, we are like walking billboards for Christ. Our actions can and should speak louder than words, and those actions should give witness to the fact that God created us all and thus we are all entitled to the same love and compassion.
The “We believe” signs have become a kind of secular creed. Let’s not forget that as Catholics, we have a creed and a faith that can make a difference in the world. If we live to that point every day, our message of unity and peace will be clear.