In these days of angry rhetoric and blustering politicians who obfuscate the truth if they want or need to, we can’t be blamed if we feel more unsettled than usual. Add to that the number of terrible tragedies playing out on our media — televisions, iPads or other similar devices, phones and computers — and the comments that are being made about these tragedies, and it’s no wonder we’re shocked by the actions people are taking.
As a nation, we don’t seem to be able to care much about people who are different from us whether it’s the color of skin, ethnicity or religious affiliation. If you don’t look and act and believe the way we do, your life doesn’t hold the same value as mine.
While that sounds ridiculous, and many people don’t stop to think about the ramifications of their actions, life in some large communities is unfolding in that way. Sitting safely in our homes or offices, it just doesn’t seem real, but if we asked someone in Ferguson, Mo., or Dallas, Texas or in many racially diverse yet still separate communities, they would know how it feels to lack value, to receive different treatment than others.
We’re living in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and here we see so many people who are treated so callously, whose lives don’t seem to matter to some, and that, unfortunately includes so many people of so many different backgrounds. Instead of expanding the tent, including everyone in showing mercy to others, we’re becoming more and more divided. We just heard the Gospel of the Good Samaritan, and we have to decide who we want to be: the Samaritan or the others? It’s easy to sit back and say we’d align ourselves with the Samaritan, but that was then, and this is now. Where are the Samaritans today?
The only way we can truly follow the example Jesus gave us in that Gospel is to step outside our comfort zones, as difficult as that is, and speak against racism in our small circles, to refuse to accept what has become the status quo. We don’t want to live in fear, waiting for violence to intrude on our lives. So, we can’t wait for someone else to solve a problem for which we must take ownership as well.
What do people say? If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. I do not want to be “part of the problem” that perpetuates an attitude of racial superiority because that doesn’t exist for me. We should never accept the idea that some within our midst are “second-class” citizens under any circumstances.
If we really believe we are all children of God, made in God’s image, how can we accept that some of God’s children count for more or less than others? It doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way. So when we hear anyone — including anyone running for public office — try to suggest this is so, we speak the truth, God’s truth, our truth. We can only change the world one person at a time. We have a lot of work to do, so we’d best get started.