Watch this short video clip before continuing.
“Wake up,” says a frustrated Dre Johnson to his wife Rainbow. “Don’t you get it, Bo? The system is rigged against us.”
“Maybe it is, Dre! But I don’t want to feel like my kids are living in a world that is so flawed that they can’t have any hope” replies Bo.
In a rare moment for primetime television, the acclaimed ABC sitcom “Black-ish” revealed a raw and intense moment as two African-American parents fought over exposing their children to the reality of race-driven police brutality. Dre responds to Bo’s yearning for hope with a moving recollection of President Obama’s inauguration:
“We were so proud. And we saw him get out of that limo and walk alongside of it and wave to that crowd. Tell me you weren’t terrified when you saw that. Tell me you weren’t worried that someone would snatch that hope away from us like they always do. That is the real world Bo. And our children need to know that that’s the world they live in.”
For Dre, the reality of our flawed system is too blatant to find any inkling of hope. For Dre, any step forward – like electing a black man as president – is tainted by the fear that our white supremacist society will push him two steps back. With the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Tamir Rice, Dre sees the reality of being black in America as too ominous to find hope.
I usually take Dre’s outlook. I struggle to find hope. When exposed to injustice, I get angry, cynical, and dive into self-hate for benefiting from and perpetuating our flawed system. My only response is to dig deeper for the endless roots of injustice so that they are exposed even more – so more people are faced with the reality of our broken world. Who has time for hope?
My issue with hope is that it is too often blind. It is used as an anesthesia to ignore the deep wounds of suffering. Blind hope gives us an excuse to just brush off suffering and injustice with contrite affirmations. It buries our world’s brokenness with some surreal picture of the future. How do we know what the perfect future looks like if we don’t dwell now in our pain and hate?
Blind hope is the gist of the tense dialogue between Dre and Bo. Dre wants their kids to be exposed to the suffering that comes with being black in America. Bo wants to hide their kids from this reality so that they will grow-up to be hopeful. Implied in their conversation is that exposure to reality can’t exist alongside blind hope. We either choose the veil of blind hope or the suffering of reality.
But what if h0pe wasn’t just blind?
What if it is only through exposure to the suffering reality of our world that we are to find hope that is not blind?
True hope does not gloss over reality and ignore our brokenness. It is not a band aid of bliss. True hope consists of the very suffering and fear that we feel at our weakest moments. True hope is rooted in the very roots of our society’s injustices.
Lent is a journey to discovering true hope. We are invited to walk with Christ on the long path to Golgotha. True hope is found exactly on the cross, in Christ’s weakest moment. God did not ignore the fallen-ness of our world by covering it up with a bright light, billowy clouds, and white robes. God entered into our very brokenness by succumbing to a humiliating death on the cross. God is redeeming this world. God isn’t doing this through blind strikes in the dark, but through entering into lives.
This is true hope. This is the hope that is full of all of the fear that Dre felt during President Obama’s inauguration. This is the hope of a community that stands in solidarity, reacting to suffering and injustice by entering into it and fighting against it together.
Hope is not blind. It is the very real presence of God in the midst of our weakest moments.
Ben Rumbaugh is an alumni of CFJ ’13 and engaged to the beautiful CFJ alumna Lauren Enty. He is attending seminary in Pittsburg and cannot wait to get a dog.