It has taken me almost a WEEK to even want to write about Ferguson, MO. Mostly because I have worked in this area of St. Louis County for 4 years and it feels odd that the whole world all of a sudden is taking interest in North County, St. Louis, a place that has taught me how to confront my own prejudices as I have learned to deeply love so many parents of children with visual impairments in North County over the course of the last 4 years. Working in North City and North County has truly taught me how to deal with the most difficult sides of myself. As one of my friends who works in ministry pointed out today, "when we confront areas of race, we have to look up (to God), look within ourselves and then act out our prayers to everyone (especially the people who live and look different then me).
See, when I started to confront the prejudices and dark places inside of me, I began to rethink my fears towards others. I have learned over the years that my "fear of the others" in the world is my body's physical and mental response to things it has never experienced or fully understands. So REALLY, what I have learned about facing these types of fears is that it says way more about me then it does the person or place my brain is telling me to fear. It is a purely biological feeling that may not be true at all. We needed it has cave men to survive and sometimes that is still the case. But my radar is not 100% accurate, especially when it comes to people. Here is another thing I have learned, "the others" also have this SAME primal gut reaction to things they don't understand. If I show fear to their differences then that fear is felt by them and projected back on to me. Yes, I have learned that I truly fear what I don't understand.
Working in Ferguson, North County and the North City has taught me that the initial primal response to new things is not true fear, it is often times God's urging for me to step out of my comfort zone with people who would in fact become my greatest teachers.
So, if you live in St. Louis, I would recommend that you start hanging out in North County. You have teachers waiting to teach you about beautiful ways of life that you can only learn in that area of St. Louis, if you are a willing and humble student.