To my Christian friends, black and white (and every other hue), left and right—Jesus said you have to forgive me (Matthew 5:15—look it up!).
Please remember that as you read.
We are in a fascinating time historically. We are moving from awareness of yet another incident of racism and brutality to, what I believe will be, a historic turning point.
The question is, where will we go when we turn?
I am hearing and reading hundreds of spokespeople, each trying to explain life to the group they are not part of. Black leaders (I include athletes and entertainers because people listen to them) telling me as a white man how to understand life. White people explaining to the black community why what they are doing is wrong (I understand I just said something enormously stupid—as though all members of the black community are doing anything—but I’m stating what I perceive to be the intent of the speakers). “Conservative” political leaders trying to take a stand against anarchy. “Liberal” political leaders trying to take a stand against institutionalized racism and brutality.
Everyone is talking, but it seems to me no one is listening.
I can’t remember the last time I saw people talking with each other instead of at each other.
For the last 4 decades, I have had the privilege of working with married couples—white, black, Hispanic, Asian, interracial—helping them put their marriages back together. In every case one of the most important things I do is facilitate them talking with each other. If I simply set them up to talk at each other I guarantee the majority of those couples would no longer be together.
If we are going to come to a point where racism is truly removed from our institutions (it will never completely be removed from some people’s hearts—people of all races–until they turn to our King to make it happen), we need to talk with each other. We need to hear what the other feels, what their experiences in life have led them to, what their thoughts are about how to move forward.
But this needs to be a two-way conversation! If it isn’t, this issue will simply reflect the schism that is already splitting people in the US. Change won’t happen. People will become entrenched and will tend to move from the center (where most are I believe) to extremes. Hate will not end—it will be magnified.
I am extremely concerned about this. My King has stationed me here to facilitate reconciliation between people and God. But that reconciliation inevitably affects their relationships with one another. The Apostle John said if anyone says he loves Jesus but hates his brother, he is a liar. (1 John 4:20)
But you say “I don’t hate anyone!” The problem is your actions and your words say something different. Regardless of your racial background, if you hate, or allow yourself to be seen as hating without trying to change it, you are the problem.
I don’t know the answer to every question we will have to address. But I fear for the world my grandkids will grow up in. I fear for them if they are part of a land where people are polarized and unwilling to simply listen to people who aren’t like them. So, I suggest we stop that.
I don’t mean that as something we just say. I mean, let’s do something about it right now. Here are a few suggestions:
- Invite someone you know who is from a different racial background to talk. The agenda is to get to know one another. You both talk about who you are, what you think and feel about what is happening, and what you hope will change. Make it your mission to hear that person! After all, Proverbs tells us that the one who speaks before he hears is a fool. (Proverbs 18:13)
- If you can’t do #1 because you don’t really know anyone racially different from you, change that now. Introduce yourself to a neighbor, a co-worker, someone who is part of your gym—whatever it takes—and tell them you’d like to get to know them. Be honest about why. Honesty is a good thing
- If you know you have any racist thoughts or attitudes, own them. Be honest about them. Ask the Lord to help you get rid of them, and then be willing to do what He wants you to do to make that happen. Odds are really good that this will entail going back to #s 1 and 2.
- If you are someone who speaks out—in writing, from a pulpit or platform, from a stage or a sports field, in a video or an office—find someone different from you and start talking with that person instead of at them. Let’s have dialogue instead of monologue.
- If you are making a video or writing a blog explaining something to white people, black people, leftists or rightists…stop it. For all your good intentions, you are part of the problem. Instead, invite someone different to talk with you on camera, or to write with you—not to debate, but to understand each other. When you educate them on something you assume they don’t understand (and you might be right), give them the chance to educate you on their thoughts and feelings about the issue.
I’d like to start this by inviting any of my black, brown, Asian, Arabic, Islander, or mixed-race to interact with me. I will not debate anyone. Debates are a contest and they are about winning, not understanding. I don’t want to win. I want to understand and be understood. We can correspond, co-author a blog, make a video–so long as we both are seeking to understand and be understood. When we do this, we all win.
Couples who have experienced adultery don’t reconcile by the “offended party” going out and doing what the other has been doing. They find peace and unity when, together, they admit their part in what has happened and both repent, building a new marriage. I would love to see a new country. I’m willing to help start building it because my King wants me to. Anyone want to join me?
Know Jesus and Be Faithful!