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 will soon celebrate our 31st 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 attended the same university where his mother and I met where he majored in criminal justice and worked as a security officer for the school. He is currently seeking employment.
My life is not completely white. Through the years my circle of friends have included African Americans, Pakistani Muslims, Hispanics, rednecks, and Yankees. We have worked, played, sang, eaten, and worshipped side by side. I have been in many of their homes and many of them 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 again. 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. We live in a post Civil Rights era when opportunities are supposed to be available to everyone no matter their background. I do not understand why that does not seem happen.
I definitely do not understand groups that want to revert to the sinful actions of yesterday. 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.
I do not understand why someone would attack a jogger because they THOUGHT he was up to criminal activity. I don’t understand those who are supposed to “serve and protect” instead act as judge and jury by their actions. I am ashamed and embarrassed by those whose actions are reprehensible.
- 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 Georgia and Minnesota bother me. I do not understand why these things still happen. What happened to Dr. King’s dream? What happened to brotherly love?
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?