Just Mercy.

Just Mercy.

Through foster care, I have come to mother children of all ages and races. And it’s opening my mind, my heart, my eyes to realities I never knew.

It’s shattering my rose-colored glasses. And I’m left searching for a new lens to view and know this world. One that sees past my own privilege.

I’m grateful for authors like Bryan Stevenson who share and teach me through books like Just Mercy. He gives a powerful glimpse into the racial bias of America’s justice system. And an inspiring reflection that pulls the reader from devastation to hope.

I find myself coming back to Chapter 12 reminding myself to hope. That though I may want days without tantrums or control over court verdicts, what I need is hope.

Stevenson writes:

I had grown fond of quoting Václav Havel, the great czech leader who had said that hope was the one thing that people struggling in Eastern Europe needed during the era of Soviet domination. Havel said that people struggling for independence wanted money and recognition from other countries. They wanted more criticism of the Soviet empire from the West and more diplomatic pressure but Havel had said that these were things they wanted.

The only thing they needed was hope. Not that pie in the sky stuff. Not a preference for optimism over pessimism. But rather an orientation of the spirit. The kind of hope that creates a willingness to position oneself in a hopeless place and be a witness. That allows one to believe in a better future even in the face of abuse of power.

That kind of hope makes one strong. Havel prescribed exactly what our work seemed to require.

I cannot know what Easter Europeans faced under Soviet reign or what African Americans face under the injustices of America today. I can only know it is more than I will face. And remember that I am choosing to face what little I do.

And yet, this passage still resonates with me. Because that kind of hope is what foster care needs. What it requires.

For foster parents, yes. We need that willingness to position ourselves in these hopeless places and choose to be witnesses.

But even more so, for foster kids. They are the ones who must believe in a better future even in the face of abuse. In the face of injustices I will never know.

They need hope. And so, I must hope too.

Not only because they need my hope, but because I need it.