Have you ever bought a car thinking and the moment that you begin driving it around, you begin to see others just like it everywhere? How about discovering a band and then hearing that band over and over again wherever you go?
This phenomenon has a name. It is called Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Here’s the definition that one website gives for it, “The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when a person, after having learned some (usually obscure) fact, word, phrase, or other item for the first time, encounters that item again, perhaps several times, shortly after having learned it.”
As the relations between the public and the police continue to be strained, we continue to hear about cases of African Americans, many times young people, who seem to be bearing the brunt of the strained relationships. While it seems like we are hearing these stories just about every day, I wonder if it’s really just a case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Maybe they’ve been there all along and we just didn’t notice.
I’ve blogged before about my own far distance from understanding just what this is all about. I grew up in a wealthy suburb of New York City and experienced privileges that many don’t experience. My family wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but geography plays a whole lot into the growing up experience that a person has.
I have friends who have helped me to understand better just what goes through the mind of an African American man who is struggling to be taken seriously or an African American mother who is worrying whether or not her teenage sons will make it home without being accosted by the someone, especially the police. Those conversations and insights have helped me to see things that I never saw before but which have existed for far longer than I imagined.
Please don’t let anyone tell you that this is a new problem. Please don’t let anyone tell you that this is propaganda introduced by our president. While I’m not a big fan of the president, I would hardly accuse him of causing these high tensions in the area of race relations. It is even possible that the impetus for the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon to kick in is the fact that our president is an African American man.
I don’t know how to resolve these tensions. Sometimes tensions need not be resolved, they simply need to be lived with, but I hardly believe that’s the case with what we are experiencing. If I had been born or raised somewhere else, or if I had been born a different color, I expect that I would have come to an understanding and consciousness of this a long time ago. But I am thankful that there is some understanding and consciousness now, I just need to make sure that the consciousness results in something other than observation.
“Black lives matter.” We’ve seen the banners in the midst of demonstrations. We could easily say change it to “All lives matter.” I say that not to diminish the impact that the recent tensions have had on the African American community but because we need to realize that every life is important, regardless of the differences that may appear. If we are all created in the image of God, then it’s important for us to treat every life as just that.
I would say that our society is fully aware of the impact that these strained relations have had upon the black community, now we just need to move to a place where we are moving forward, where we are no longer denying that there is an issue, and where we can honestly say that all lives matter, regardless of race or color.
May God grant us peace in the midst of conflict. May we find a peace in him that is found nowhere else. May those of us who know him make him known that others might experience peace that passes understanding, a peace that is able to calm the mightiest storm, literal or figurative.