By Andy Christian Castillo
I never had a choice; thrust into the cold light of a dawning earth thrown back into caveman days. No one cared about anyone but themselves. My first breath wasn’t freedom, that’s for damn sure; and when the inky blackness slid away from newborn eyes, all I saw was pain. I didn’t choose this.
Before I was even a thought, the tendrils of systemic oppression slithered around my unborn heart and squeezed the life out of it: I was dead before I existed. I never even had a choice.
Sometimes I wonder if it might have been better not to have been born at all; at least then I wouldn’t have become an oppressor when I became. The correlation between my skin color and my socioeconomic status as a human wasn’t my choice, but it happened just the same.
And that infuriates me.
A great man once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” (MLK).
That brings up the question: When did we become silent? When did we decide that status is dependent on appearances which fade and not on the substances of the heart? When did we stop caring about our brothers and sisters?
And when did our lives begin to end?
The answer: Before they even began; before I was even born.
He was never quiet, even after they killed him. His voice rings on into the anthems of forever. That man inspired a nation to demand an end to the injustice of inequality in the name of love.
Someone else recorded God on paper when He said “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In this nation that Christians affectionately call Christian, why is it that we don’t do this? Yeah, it sounds great when you stand up at the Sunday morning pulpit, wave your finger into the stale air and declare, with conviction, that the LORD looks upon the heart.
Man, whose heart are you talking about?
Your voice is so loud, so obnoxious, so blatant, so quiet.
You shout so loud that you can’t hear what you’re saying; you have become silent about the things that matter and loud, oh so loud, about the things that don’t.
You’re blind to the blackness of bigotry and bias that has overtaken you. Right after words of grace and love toward yourself leave your mouth you condemn fellow-humans with harsh judgement; you warn the innocent flock to stay away from people who are different, or worse yet, to pity them.
Sir, Ma’am, whatever: I’m here to tell you that just because your heart is hardened to your own self-righteousness doesn’t mean that you’re in the right.
ALL men have fallen short of the glory of God; not his GRACE. Your job isn’t to condemn people to hell or hades or judgement. Your job is to proclaim LOVE that was first shown to you by one single act of grace so complete that it covers every wrongful act of sin, even yours.
At the end of time, when death steals up and steals breath, don’t be left holding the reigns of a cart that has been set on fire with hate in the name of love. Don’t trample on the people that you’re supposed to love. It isn’t up to us humans to determine the worth or value of a person based on their appearances or actions.
Instead, love unconditionally; preach grace; soak up God like sunshine; let your words be compassionate toward the brokenhearted; recognize your own worthlessness first.
Care about people: all people.
Even if it kills you.
Andy Christian Castillo is the Founder of Ver・ism(s). He is a military veteran and student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pursuing a degree in English. In his free time, he plays music, writes poetry, gallivants around the world, climbs mountains and runs through the pouring rain.