Saturday, July 16, 2016

Healing Racism

Yes, racism exists.  It has existed since the beginning of mankind and it will more than likely exist for decades to come.  The violence that we’ve been seeing in the name of racism, particularly with the recent Dallas events, is heartbreaking.  You would think that we would be better than this by now.  People have been working really hard for generations, putting their heart and soul into overcoming racism.  And yet here we are still dealing with the rage and pain that have affected people of all races throughout history, some more so than others. 

We are not born racists.  Racism is taught.  It is also learned through our own experiences.  Then those teachings and/or experiences turn into our beliefs about others.  For whatever reasons, we become racist when we become against a whole group of people just because of the color of their skin.  What’s interesting is that if a white person hurts a white person, the latter doesn’t hold it against all whites.  If a black person hurts a black person, the latter doesn’t hold it against all blacks.  You can exchange the color with any color.  You can also exchange the color with any religion.  So if we’re not going to hold it against our own race or religion, then why do we hold it against others? 

The events in Dallas were tragic (as they are anywhere they occur)... the police who were shot, as well as all the innocent lives that got caught in the crossfire.  And then there are the black men who have been shot by the police.  We have a lot of healing to do, for sure.  But we’re not going to find solutions or heal if we keep pointing fingers and finding ways to keep us separate!  We have got to start moving away from fear (hate and racism are byproducts of fear), and move into a state of love and compassion.  And people are doing so!  We’re seeing it! 

People from all races and groups are coming together all over the country to show their love and support for all concerned.  I’ve been seeing some beautiful videos and articles on Facebook where people are uniting for a common cause!  The hugs I’m seeing between all races just make my heart sing!  One such video showed dozens of people of all colors hugging several officers after an interfaith prayer service in Dallas.   Officers and civilians are hugging each other all over the country in stores, parking lots, at peaceful protests, and so on.  They’re also sharing tears because people are realizing just how much a part of each other we really are and that we’re all in this together. 

We have also got to stop making blanket statements about whole groups of people!   For example…   Not all cops are bad.  Not all blacks are thugs.  Not all Muslims are terrorists.  Not all Christians are hateful and judgmental.  In fact, there are so many more who are good, decent, kind-hearted, and loving!  We just don’t hear about them.  So, please, never give up on humanity!  We’re getting there, but we still have a lot of work to do!

To be clear, this isn’t to say that people don’t have legitimate complaints and concerns.  They do, and they need to be taken care of.  But as the saying goes, are we going to be a part of the solution or part of the problem?  This goes for every politician and religious leader, as well as each of us individually.  Are we helping or hurting?  Are we speaking words of hate and fear, or love and compassion?  Are we bringing people together or keeping them apart?  It starts with each of us!

We have got to stop putting labels on people because labels come with judgments.  Take away all our labels and we see that we really are one race…the human race.  Desmond Tutu said, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

As for the recent events, Van Jones had it right when he said, “Everybody’s got to reach deep down and find some empathy.  If you cried for the brother who bled out next to his fiancée, but you didn’t cry for those police officers, it’s time to do a heart check.  If you cried for those police officers, but you have a hard time taking seriously all these videos that are coming out about African Americans dying, it’s time to do a heart check.  We are either going to come together or come apart.  There’s enough pain on both sides that there should be some empathy starting to kick in.”

And as Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”   

Published July 15, 2016 in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper.

No comments: