Whether we want to admit it or not there is a serious problem in this world. Since biblical times people have chosen to live according to their own agenda rather than God’s.
In Christian circles we call this sin. Sin takes various forms. Sometimes it is stealing or lying. Other times it is murder or hatred. Racism is a sin that for many people they experience all to often while for others they fail to acknowledge it “still” exists.
For many we fail to truly understand our history and therefore are unable to learn from it. This unfortunately results in us repeating it. Racist and prejudice actions are no different.
In light of the tragic events of just days ago a few people close to me but from another culture have asked “What can we do?”
Now there are more people who are better suited to tackle these issue. However I believe I have a responsibility to move the conversation forward in my circle.
What I have noticed is that the topic of Racism is like the topic of gluttony. By this I mean, throughout my time in Church I have NEVER heard a sermon on gluttony. If you think about it, it’s an awkward issue. How do you address it? How do you help people with it? Do you really want to “offend” people with this issue?
Oh, we may mention in a broad sense it is listed as a sin but typically we are unwilling to discuss it because it is uncomfortable and we aren’t sure of the words to use. The result is people are stuck to suffer in sin with no support system.
I see this happening with issues of race. It is uncomfortable to talk about. In fact just the other day someone said “I am not sure of what to say and if by saying something I will make matters worst” therefore their choice is to remain silent. (I completely understand their heart and know they are concerned about issues but are unsure of how to respond) It must be noted however like any un-addressed sin it will continue to destroy our relationship with God and with each other.
For individual people who are thinking what can “I” actually do. I have some very simple yet practical starting points to help you navigate this issue of ethnic/cultural/racial tensions.
Starting point 1) – You will have to acknowledge something is wrong (and it may be everyone’s fault)
What I mean is that as people we can’t look to explain away or dismiss issues that come up. Unfortunately we rely on our favorite news outlet that will tell a very different story from another program as well as from what may have actually occurred.
Starting point 2) – We need to be a bit more sensitive
What I have noticed is that people are all to quick to cast their opinion about something based off a set of values/principles/and expectations that fit them. For example if you have been raised in a rural setting then for you owning a firearm may not be a big deal. However if you encounter someone from a major city they may have a very different opinion on guns let alone owning one.
I use this illustration to point out that for many of us who don’t have true, close, intimate friendships with someone who doesn’t look like us ethnically or culturally we will continue to stay in our bubble of truth.
Starting point 3) – Be willing to listen
Here is where people no matter what they look like will typically struggle the most. We fail to listen and empathize with other human beings unless we are in a relationship with them. Stories on the news quickly get judged and cast aside until the situation is on our doorstep. We dismiss other people’s pain because it is not something we have experienced or found to be true.
If we would just take time to treat people like people. This involves hearing their stories and realizing that while we can’t relate to their hurt we can be there to assist them in the healing process.
Bottom line it comes down to do you value the life others. This doesn’t mean whether they are alive or dead BUT that their stories and experiences are just as valid as yours and worthy of being heard.