The video of the speeding car slamming into a crowd of protesters left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Three died, including two police officers. More than 30 were injured in a Virginia riot on August 12.
Immediately after the event, people took to social media, pointing fingers. Too many, including Christians, began to assign blame for what happened. First, let me say as a former school teacher that pointing your finger doesn’t solve problems. A relevant adage reminds the pointer that three more fingers are pointing back at you. Jesus reminds us of the same.
Matthew 7:5 tells us, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We’re all to blame if we haven’t followed the teachings of Jesus. If we treat others with contempt, we’re mistreating a person created in God’s image. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination dishonor the work of Christ on the cross.
In 2006, The National Human Genome Research Institute published research findings that “confirmed that the 3 billion base pairs of genetic letters in humans were 99.9 percent identical in every person.” This means that “individuals are, on average, [only] 0.1 percent different genetically from every other person on the planet.” Why do we then focus on our differences instead of our sameness? Is this not proof, that we are all God’s children?
Recently, a dear friend shared with me that her 10-year-old granddaughter, who has a rich mixed-race heritage, has been shunned by her classmates because of her skin color and her father’s country of origin. My heart breaks for this friend and her precious grandchild. We’re not born hating those who are different from us. We learn it by the example of others.
I was born and raised in southern Louisiana during the 60s. I still recall the segregation dividing blacks and whites in the form of separate drinking fountains, restrooms and even schools. As a child, I knew this was wrong.
During my first year at an Oklahoma college in 1972, I became friends with an African American classmate from California. Ralph had been raised by a white couple after the death of his parents.
Before class one day, Ralph pulled some strips of paper from his textbook. Holding a piece of white notebook paper next to the skin on my arm, he said, “You know, Carol, you’re not really white. You’re kinda tan.”
Pulling another piece of paper out, he held the black construction paper next to his arm and said, “And see, I’m not really black. I’m more of a chocolate color.”
Ralph’s observations showed we were more alike than we were different. Today, more than ever, Christians need to listen to St. Paul’s words to the Galatians, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”