I typically don’t dive into topics of race publicly. My views are a bit eclectic with a tinge of pragmatism.
I became addicted to the idea of having maximum impact during a conversation with my brother where he told me that’s what he’s looking to do with his tech organization that serves inner city youth. I realized this is also my charge in life. If we’re not aiming for maximum positive impact, what are we doing? I tend to feel like much of the activity regarding race relations as of late, has very little, if any, positive or life giving impact. The social media rants, the rallies, the protests, the marches, are in my opinion a distraction from moving toward effective solutions.
My mother is from the deep south. Which means, my upbringing was infused with lessons on racial injustice, how to navigate life as a minority, and the inherent solidarity within the African American community. So, when I say I am more than aware of our plight, I mean that. Also, I am beyond proud of my melanin (thought I’d throw that out there).
And now for the BUT…
I believe at the core, of ALL of the foolishness we are now a part of and have experienced, is sin.
After doing something heinous and completely out of my character a few years ago, I confessed to my brother, at my core I really was no different than our ancestor’s slave owners. I know eyebrows are raising right about now.
While my brother sharply disagreed and felt it was a stretch, I continued to explain. The reason I drew this correlation was because… at the root of my actions was a desire to control. I misused my authority because I was threatened by any sense losing control. The root of my actions were akin to the root of the deplorable actions of slave owners.
After having this thought, all of a sudden I wasn’t quite so judgmental toward them. Don’t misunderstand me, in no way am I excusing, trivializing, or diminishing what occurred during slavery. Rather, I’m saying…if I’m honest, at my core I’m not that different from them. The ugly in me may not look exactly like the ugly in them, BUT it’s still ugly. My desire to control revealed things in me I am still ashamed of and stunned by.
The difference between me and them is, my heart fell ill with conviction and repentance. A refusal to acknowledge sin (or offenses, harmful flaws–whatever you want to call it) is breeding ground for abuse. Flat out!
Here’s where we can find traces of unacknowledged sin:
- Abuse (physical, psychological/emotional, verbal, sexual, spiritual)
- Unchecked anger
- A controlling nature
- Violent acts
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want anything to do with individuals exhibiting the characteristics above. It makes me feel some kind of way just looking back over that list. But here’s what I know, anyone who possesses these characteristics didn’t become that way overnight. There’s either something that happened or seeds that were planted which molded them in this way. In the case of slave owners, they believed they were the superior race therefore anyone inferior didn’t deserve basic human rights.
Truly, I could go on and on about the philosophy of slave owners because this is something I have studied extensively, but suffice it to say once again, the core issue is sin.
I encounter people daily whose actions and motives truly break my heart. Christian or not, if we ALL embraced and internalized the command to “Love thy neighbor,” we wouldn’t see a margin of the evil we experience now. I’m going to go out on a limb and say slavery wouldn’t have existed, the Holocaust wouldn’t have occurred, the practice of Redlining wouldn’t have gained footing, the Eugenics movement would not have been birthed, incest and molestation in families wouldn’t be prevalent, emotional abuse wouldn’t be endured, the list is endless but you get my point.
This is when the idealist in me surfaces. I realize it is extremely far fetched for everyone in the entire world eagerly accept the charge to “Love thy neighbor.” It is however realistic for everyone who is reading this post to commit now to doing EVERYTHING with love, and know that I’m holding my own feet to the fire as well. This is truly my daily charge. I have days where I fail miserably at this but each day is a new opportunity to love others well. Here’s the catch, we are not to exclude those listed above, the abusers, the manipulators, the narcissists, otherwise stigmatized as society’s un-lovables, from our daily doses of love. For this kind of love is capable of reaching and redeeming even the most wretched among us.