REFLECTIONS ON CHARLOTTESVILLE
Photo: TheLastStand (youtube.com)
Processing Charlottesville these past few days has been heavy on my heart, as I imagine it's been for many of you. The events of that day have made me think long and hard about racism, something I see too often surfacing in America; reminding me that the ugly and intolerable thing I first encountered as a child hadn't really resolved, in our national story arc, despite my naïve hope.
My convictions haven't changed. Racism is still not merely evil and defenseless, it's first and foremost a delusion; for there is but one species of humanity on this planet, albeit in multifarious splendor. People with dark skin, people with light skin, folks with kinky hair, folks with red hair, noses of all shapes and sizes, prominent brows, receding brows, high cheekbones, full, round faces . . . Humans in all our lovely, marvelous variety, that's reflected in our peculiar arts, fashion, industry, and cuisine.
Until the racists change their hearts, I suppose we shall always have some lunatic fringe who clings to the idea that they are "better than" simply because their eyes are blue or their hair is straight or their skin is fair. And in America, you are allowed to harbor such an insane belief. But once you use violence to press your claim, you have crossed the line; you are now an aggressor and are harming another's calm. Take care you don't become "that guy." Nobody likes that guy; nobody wants him in their family, living next door, running for mayor, or wearing a sheriff's badge. Seriously, is your mother proud of you?
I find it curious that the KKK, White Supremacists, and Nazis often launch their hate-filled messages on a platform of supposed "Christian" identity, particularly since their values, message, and practices are nothing resembling Jesus' teachings, nor those of his apostles. A core teaching of the New Testament says plainly:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Despite what these racists preach, God did not create them the "pure and superior race" over all mankind. They are deluded by their own propaganda, which is from Satan. We who are in Christ are called to pray for them so that they may be released from their misapprehension and their eyes opened to the truth.
Another great thing peace-loving people can do is what Jesus taught: love our neighbors, and look past the differences that the racists would use to divide us. Bake a cake, pie, or cookies and bring them your neighbor's house. Help them mow their lawn. Shovel the snow from their driveway. Invite them to dinner. Encourage your kids to play with the neighbors' kids. Teach them to respect others and that race makes no difference to your family. When you mention others in your home, emphasis the content of their character rather than superficial things like race or wealth.
Our children aren't born seeing those differences anyway. They learn such thinking from us—from their elders. But they also hear it on TV and in movies, so be careful what your kids are exposed to. When you hear them say something that's intolerant or insensitive to another person, talk about it. Ask them: "How did you come to that conclusion?" . . . "Where did you hear that?" . . . "How would you feel if that were you?" . . . Don't get angry with your kids; use it as a teachable moment.
God made each of us unique, so none of us is like any other who ever lived, or who will ever live. And in that sense, we are special to God. For anyone to think they are superior, though, is to misapprehend the purpose of God's creation. He made us to live as a community with him, not one tribe apart from the rest, superior to the rest, but the totality of humanity in community with him. According to God, he reserves superiority for himself:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We're stronger together, and nowhere is that more obvious than in our neighborhoods, where people who know each other by name, know each other's kids, and are familiar with each other's backyards and kitchens tend to have a tighter-than-average community. But don't be afraid to welcome people who don't fit your neighborhood's current "profile." New blood comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes—and yes, ethnicities. But it all adds to that wonderful, beautiful variety God built into humanity. Embrace those differences and love your neighbors, and we'll purge the hate from among us.
Dom De Bellis is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, coach, and minister of the Gospel. His superpower is developing leaders. He lives in Niles, Michigan.