I have something to say. Yet, I am unsure of my qualifications to discuss the issue at hand. Please understand, I am the product of a middle class family from the Southern United States. We are Caucasian – white – of European descent. Religiously, society would consider us as conservative Christians, Fundamentalist, or Evangelical. Politically, my family is a mixture of Republicans and Southern Democrats. I grew up in a city with a strong connection to the Confederate States of America. When I graduated high school, I attended a private, conservative Christian university in Montgomery, Alabama, a city with ties to the CSA and to the Civil Rights Movement.
While in college, I met my wife with whom I recently celebrated our 28th anniversary. Our marriage is a first marriage for both of us. She grew up in a blue collar family in the great state of Alabama. We raised our son in a small town, in a small school, and a close-knit church family in Alabama. He attends the same university where his mother and I met where he is majoring in criminal justice and works as a security officer for the school.
My life is not completely vanilla. Through the years my circle of friends have included African Americans, Pakistani Muslims, rednecks, and Yankees. I have been in their homes and they have been in mine.
I share this information so that you can get to know me. It is an admission that I come from a position of relative privilege. That does not mean that we have never struggled. My parents were not wealthy. In my lifetime, they have only owned used cars. The home of my youth was a modest house of less than 1,000 square feet for our family of five. My wife’s family is not too dissimilar. Her father was a factory worker and then an electrician at a surface coal mine. There were lean years and good years. There were times when the union was on strike and threats of the mine closing. For us, during the first few years of our marriage our income was less than $20,000 annually. Until recently most of our furniture was second hand. Yet, life has been – No! God has been good to us. We have always had a home and have always had meals to eat.
Knowing my background may help you to understand my lack of knowledge concerning the racial divide currently making headlines. I do not understand the rationale of those stirring up trouble, those participating in acts of violence, and those protesting using a language of hate. I simply don’t get it!
I don’t understand firsthand the frustration of being a minority in this country. I have talked with African American friends and listened to their frustration. I hear what they are saying, I get that they feel a certain way, but I have not lived it. I do not understand how some choose to be a victim. We live in a post Civil Rights era when opportunities are available to everyone no matter their background. I do not understand an attitude that will not try to improve on a situation.
I definitely do not understand groups that want to revert to the sinful actions of yesterday (Originally, I wrote “the sins of yesterday” but a comment of FB reminded me that the sin of racism or prejudice has always been there and they are correct. My concern is with both the action and the heart behind the action and my prayer is that you and I can somehow lead the hearts and minds of men to what God would have them to be – SMc). I do not understand hate groups that want to place one race or skin tone above others. I don’t get it! I do not understand their blaming minorities for their own lack of motivation to improve themselves. They are childish, hateful, and their actions are wrong.
Christian friends, may I bend your ear a little longer?
May I plead with you to avoid the extremes?
May I ask you to be a part of the solution and not the problem?
May I implore you to recall that God created all mankind?
May I remind you that we all come from the same ancestor – Adam?
We are amenable to the same law – the Law of Christ and will all stand before the same judge.
We all have the same hope – salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
The good news is for all mankind.
Remember the Savior taught us to love our neighbor. We are to love our Jewish neighbor, our addicted neighbor, our White neighbor, our Hispanic neighbor, our Christian neighbor, our atheist neighbor, our Muslim neighbor, our African-American neighbor, our homeless neighbor, our heterosexual neighbor, our adulterous neighbor, our homosexual neighbor, do I need to go on?
Love your neighbor.
The events in places like Charlottesville, Virginia bother me. I do not get it! Protests and violence all because of the existence of and removal of a statue?!? When did we become so immature and sensitive that a statue can become the focal point of protests and aggression?
The Christians I assemble with also struggle with these events. The 30 something that lead our Bible class talked about the events. The younger man who lead our thoughts as we remembered the sacrifice of Christ, used the events of Charlottesville to remind us of the unifying nature of Christ’s self-sacrifice. We prayed prayers for Charlottesville and our nation that we might learn peace, love, and unity.
What can I do, what will I do?
I can keep praying. But I will also do my part to live love, to act in peace, and to pursue unity. I will stand up for and speak for what is good, right, and just. I will approach conflict and disagreement peacefully. Will you join me?