One of my clients suggested this to me yesterday: can we say “every life matters” instead of “all lives matter”?
All Lives Matter
Here’s the thing with, “all lives matter,” it sounds like an argument against “black lives matter”. It’s a true statement, but it’s also a reactionary statement against the statement, “black lives matter.” Some people who are saying, “all lives matter,” are surely well-intentioned, and they simply don’t understand what, “black lives matter,” is supposed to mean. It sounds like an inappropriate distinction to them. However, there are also those who took up this chant in direct opposition to the BLM chant.
Black Lives Matter
“Black lives matter,” is an important thing to say. It may be misunderstood by some, but I understand it and I’ll gladly explain it as many times as I need to. “Black lives matter,” is an argument against the statement that is implied by so much of American society–and forms the subtext of our history books and what we see on the news every day–the unspoken statement that “black lives don’t matter”. Black lives definitely matter to the people that are living them, and to their loved ones, friends, and communities. We simply won’t put up with any part of this society acting as if they don’t. Not anymore.
Blue Lives Matter
I’ve also been talking about “blue lives matter”, which is an argument against the vilification of the police and calls for their deaths. This too could be a well-intentioned statement, especially if you’re the family member of a police officer. However, some people are certainly using this as a taunt or counter-message against the BLM protests. You can see this in the “thin blue line” flag that re-casts America in back and white terms and interposes police between black and black. Just try to tell me there’s no racial connotations there.
Every Life Matters
My client explained to me that, “every life matters,” would be a statement of the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. I love it. This is what I like to think of as the divinity of every human being. This is why I can agree that black lives matter, that all lives matter, and that police lives matter. If you’re saying one of these things, you’re not wrong in your statement, but if you’re saying it to try to counter or diminish what someone else is saying, then maybe you could be wrong. The justification to say these things is that every life matters. These statements only become wrong when they’re used to negate the importance of someone else’s life. My client is right. Every human life has dignity and worth.
If you agree that this statement is true, then go do the work. Believing that every life matters means taking care of your own life and respecting others. Go do your push-ups, and get to know your neighbor. Be your best self, and cooperate with the people around you. It is better to seek agreement than to pursue disagreement.
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