Due to recent events that have made the national news, I’ve been doing some thinking about racism. I’ve stayed quiet about it because there has seemed to be no realistic way to address the issue and make a difference on a national scale—and if you can’t make a big difference, then why even try? (Yes, I know. I’ll come back to that one.)
I was having a conversation the other day with my sister who related a story about being in a local convenience store. She was standing in line waiting to pay for her gas when another person nearby began to insist that she move up ahead of him…not simply out of good manners or in order to do a kind deed, but because he didn’t want her behind him. He was open in his disdain for her…as a white person. In fact, he openly stated that he “hated white people.”
That’s hard for the two of us to understand—for many reasons. One, because we were taught not to hate anyone. Two, because the majority of the children my sister has taught over the years have not been of her race and she has loved on all of them. Three, just the idea of hating an entire set of people—especially for any reason that is beyond their control!—seems more than a little unbalanced, to say the least. The list goes on and on…
I’ve thought about that conversation a great deal this week. Each time, I end up shaking my head and wondering how that young man came to that conclusion. Who taught him that? I’m aware that the Southern United States has had a reputation for racism…and my own state has been, perhaps, the one most singled out for this particular sin. The idea, however, of lumping an entire group of people into a category for hatred—no matter which “side” you’re on…well, that just amazes me. I’m happy to say that I just can’t fathom the idea of that as a rational choice at all.
Aside from the rational thought process, I have to say that racism is just about as productive as trying to eat an entire watermelon through a straw…although I’m sure it’s possible if you’re determined enough, you’ll look pretty silly in the attempt. There are simply much better ways of dealing with the situation. Thankfully, that particular situation doesn’t reflect the norm around here. In fact, I’ve seen several other people (of all different nationalities and skin colors) go out of their way to be more polite and smile as they greeted each other this past week. That tells me that I’m not alone in thinking that racism isn’t a viable option.
Scripture tells me that I am COMMANDED to love everyone. That doesn’t mean that I will like every one I meet or that I will agree with all of their decisions/actions. It means that I am to have an attitude of love toward the other people God has created regardless of any other factor and that love should come out in the way I interact with them. I can really appreciate that John spells it all out pretty plainly here–he did not say, “love the ones who look like you”…in fact, he said:
“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17
“Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3: 10b, 11, 18
Then there’s the practical side of things. Since I believe that God is deliberately involved in the lives of each of His creations, the idea that He just randomly assigned skin colors doesn’t make sense to me. In fact, I think He was so deliberate in His creation of each of us that our skin colors are simply the result of a decision that might have gone something like this: “Becky (or whatever your name is—insert it here!) can glorify me most by being born here, in this color, to these people, in this place, at this time.” I mean, seriously, if He’s going to keep count of the number of hairs on our heads as it says in Matthew 10:33 and Luke 12:7, do you really think He just randomly assigned everything else about us?! Get real.
What that means is that if you’re having a problem with someone (or a whole group of someones!) simply because of their skin color, then your real beef is with God. Yes, God. The same God that made you also made them! He could just as easily chosen to create you just like them or put you in their circumstance. Oh, yeah. Think about THAT the next time you get mad at someone for something God chose to do! (grin)
As for not making a difference on the national level…well, yes, that was a silly statement, too. As always, ideas, opinions, etc. don’t make it to the national level until they’ve been made the norm on the personal level. What can we all do to affect this–or any other issue? Pursue our personal relationship with God like it’s the only one that matters. If we’re all doing that, our relationships with others can’t help but be a better reflection of the love and grace that is found only in Him.
But, if you’re going to waste your energy actually hating a whole group of people, go ahead an try that watermelon thing, too. You’ll wear yourself out, be just as productive and look just as stupid, but at least you’ll have a slight chance to leave with a great taste in your mouth…and I don’t think racism/hatred will do even that for you.