Ending Racism - Is This Even Possible???
There is no question, from any sane responsible human being, that racism, in any form, is not acceptable. Not one human being is more or less important than any other, this includes:
The weak or the strong
The timid or the bold
Those with or without disabilities
Those with higher or lower so-called IQ’s
Those of light or heavy build
Those with the gift of height or the gift of shortness
Those of a younger or an older age
Those who believe in God or those who worship another non-Christian deity
Those whom society has “labeled” beautiful and those whom have been deemed not so beautiful
Those with full heads of hair and those whose hair is a bit more sparse or non-existent
And those of different skin colors and shades.
In fact, if we were to by into our society views, virtually each and everyone of us would fall short of what is “labeled” to be the best of these above eleven attributes. In fact, a quick count for myself and I find I fall into five of the eleven not ideal “labels, and I am right in the middle of three of the eleven. So, in eight out of eleven, 73% of these categories, I am less than what society “labels” as most desirable. But I can tell you first hand, that I don’t feel any less valuable, loved, important, or essential to my family, my employer, to society, to myself, or to God. So, what is good, or best, and what is not?
Determining what is good, bad, best, or worse, means we are forced to “label” one of our characteristics of whatever, or more importantly, whomever we are talking about, or dealing, working, or living with. This is easy …right …because we are all humans and that’s what we do, we “label” or judge others. Which makes perfect sense because we are commanded to do this in that commandment … right…the one that says: Thou shalt assign a “label” to all your brothers and sisters so that you shall be able to properly judge their character!
Obviously, there is no such commandment, and the pure thought of such a thing would be very painful to, and certainly disliked by, God. Judge not, lest ye be judged, is a directive Jesus gave us according to the book of Matthew 7:1. However, this verse is one of the most misrepresented versus in the Bible. What Matthew actually recalls Jesus saying was this: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” You see it is far too easy for us to judge---but it is likely that when we judge, we don’t remember that we have many of the very same issues or shortcomings ourselves, of those judgements we are making to/on others.
So, what about racism – can it even be eliminated from our world? This question may seem a departure from my previous points about judgement, but let’s remember that judgement is a foundational reason for racism. So, let’s dig into eliminating racism.
Actually, there has only been one time, on this earth, when there was no racism. Do understand this, you need to go back to the very first humans; the time before racism first occurred. Geneses chapter one tells us that God created mankind in his own image and “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Genesis chapter 2:8 goes on to tell us: “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
In chapter 2:15-25: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
So, when God created Man, he was given free will to do anything he wished – EXCEPT – eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were given freely the Tree of Life, but, as we know, Adam and Eve were convinced by the serpent that God didn’t really mean what he said and thus they chose the knowledge of good and evil instead of what God had provided-the tree of LIFE– They chose Satan over God. So, it is very important to emphasize that mankind has always had free will, but when we choose to not listen to God, when we chose the pursuit of good and evil versus life, then we gave/give our lives over to the serpent-Satan. Racism did not exist at this time, the only time we can make this claim, but this is when the “fall” from God’s grace began - when we chose to ignore God and follow Satan. God then proclaimed to and about Adam: “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So, the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
As the Genesis story goes on, we learn that Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Able.
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So, Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”
So, Abel gave God the first and very best of what he had to offer, but Cain just randomly picked some fruit, as an offering to God. This led to the first true judgement, when Cain was angry with Abel, for honoring God more so than he had honored God. As we know, this also led to the first crime, based on this sinful judgement, when Cain murdered his brother Able.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Unfortunately, the mindsets of many of our people today, have not changed much from the very first humans. We see and want the glistening tasty fruit type aspects of life. Often times, whether these facets of life are truly what God would want for us, in our lives, in our treatment of others, and with our families, we either don’t think about the impacts or we choose, or prefer, to listen to the tempter-Satan, versus following God’s grace. Yes, I know each and every day it’s not as simple as knowing it’s God versus Satan, but in reality, many of our decisions and choices are in fact deciding which path to follow. Think about the impact of illegal drugs and/or crime; I venture to say that the vast majority of folks know that getting involved in either realm is not what God would want for us, but instead some allow the draw of a temporary high, or big money, or influence, or power, to align more with the serpent than to be true to God. These things happen because they are easy – God’s not someone standing right next to us, or a person whom we see every day, so out-of-sight becomes out-of-mind. Yet God is everywhere and sees everything, and choosing to walk away from God takes away the tree of Life for us, and guarantees we will walk in the pursuit of good and evil alone, and not the pursuit of life.
By now, you’re likely wondering how this ties into racism. We started with free will, with a choice of eternal life. We chose the path following the serpent was more appealing than simply trusting and having faith in God, and thus judgement, jealousy, and crime entered our lives. I think you see the connection: Racism is judgement, jealousy, and/or crime. Racism starts when we become like Cain and don’t like, or we direct anger towards, the Abel’s of the world. We don’t give our very best to God, and then we judge and direct our anger towards those who do give their best, or do better than us at giving their best, to God. These are all judgements; looks, weight, hair color, wealth, nice-home or homeless, religion, or culture. None of these, are characteristics that God cares about or looks upon with favor. God loves us all. I personally don’t dedicate nearly as much to God as I should – I do more than some, and less than others – but God loves me AS MUCH, not less, not more, than all of these folks. It’s when we don’t remember, follow, share, or believe, in this unconditional love that God gives us, that true racism begins to creep in.
So, how do we end racism? It is my contention that as long as man exists, racism will exist. Thus, as well meaning as it is for all of us, this goal is not achievable. The person who demands “we must eliminate racism” reminds me of the Miss Universe contestant who proclaims her life goal is to bring world peace to the globe. Initially we all hear this and say Amen!!! But then we realize the billions of people needed to make this work, and the fallen sinful nature of mankind, and ultimately land on the same fact, this goal is unachievable, as long as mankind exists. So yes, we can achieve world peace and end racism but only if mankind ceases to exist. Thus, the conundrum – no people = no racism and world peace. People exist, no world peace and racism will exist. Perhaps our true goal should be eliminating racism to the maximum extent possible. Aside from God sending another great flood, and recruiting another Noah, which wipes out all of mankind for us all to start over with only this “Noah’s” family, I don’t believe ending racism is possible.
But what can we do? The first obvious point we need to go back to the beginning or as my process engineering friends would say, define root cause. This all started when we ignored God and listened to the serpent. So, it seems obvious that we need to get closer to God and help our brothers and sisters in their pursuit of God. We need to get into and closer to his Word and go out and share his Word with everyone.
Then as we get more familiar with God’s Word and the words of Jesus, we need to be more intentional, dedicated, and committed to following the Word. We started off discussing judge not lest ye be judged – I think we all need to go out of our way to follow this. We need to try every chance we get, bite our tongs on occasion, and/or catch ourselves and pause when we think these judgmental thoughts or we hear others sharing their judgements. We need to endeavor to open our eyes and the eyes of others to the plethora of possibilities as to why someone is, does, professes, or believes as they do, instead of casting our own judgements. And yes, we will fail at times, I know I do, but the more we commit ourselves to stopping this trait, the better we will do.
I believe if we do the above two things, plus God’s most important commandments, we truly have a fighting chance at eliminating racism to the maximum extent possible.
God’s most important commandments. I’m sure some, or most of you know, that this question was posed of Jesus. In Mark 12:28, Mark tells us how Jesus answered: “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
If we truly listen and live these words from Jesus, the vast majority of racism WOULD cease to exist. Loving our neighbors means treating them with love – not judging them. Loving our neighbors does not mean we condone their sins or transgressions as their issues or lifestyles are not things for us to judge, only for God to judge, but we can still treat them with love. Love is not an endorsement, it is not a judgement or evaluation, it is not a commendation nor a condemnation, it’s not an evaluation, or even acceptance of someone’s else’s characteristics, lifestyles, or choices. Love is not an all-or-nothing act; it is simply love; treating one with kindness and compassion.
In my lifetime, I have personally managed a team of 200 employees where I was one of only three white people, and the only white male. I have managed a team where every employee was half of my age or younger, and I have worked with numerous teammates in different country’s and cultures, and while I have failed at times and allowed cultural bias to enter my thoughts, and yes on a rare occasion my actions, I have never viewed any of these folks by their culture, age, or skin color. I thank God for giving me this mindset and attitude because it would be very easy to fall into the cultural judgement trap. I venture to say the vast majority of you folks and our world feel the same way and have had very much the same history as I. There have certainly been people who I disagreed with or I did not embrace their way of life, but I feel we still need to treat them with love. Not only is this best for relationships, understanding, and team work, but God commands it of us.
Can we end racism, I don’t see how it is possible? But when we commit ourselves to honoring God, living within the boundaries of his grace, love, and his Word, we live our lives displaying his love and grace and share the wonders of God with all whom we come in contact, and finally put love first and foremost in every action, word, expression, and communication we have, then we will make an impact. End racism NO, but minimize it to the greatest extent possible – this is obtainable!!!
In closing, I feel there are no more important, and relative words, than those from James, Paul, and certainly Jesus. These are words we can live by that would help all of us make this world far better and take a huge bite out of racism. I leave you with these words from the bible:
James, brother of Jesus, wrote to the Jewish Christians, about 49 A.D., that had been scattered throughout the Mediterranean world because of persecution. In James 1:19-25 he stated: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
About 60 A.D., the apostle Paul (formerly Saul), while imprisoned in Rome, wrote to the church in Colosee, a city in Asia minor, and to all believers everywhere. In Colossians 3:1-8, Paul wrote: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Finally, and most importantly, somewhere between 60-65 A.D., Matthew writes the words of Jesus as he spoke the sermon on the mount. Jesus was giving everyone directions for living in his kingdom. For this topic, the words of Jesus that Matthew recorded, are so critical today as we deal with this topic and our relationships with our brothers and sisters: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:22
Matthew 5:38-42: Retaliation
Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Matthew 5: 43-48: Love Your Enemies
Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Thank you, Jesus, - AMEN!!!