These are just some of the headlines of recent weeks and it makes me wonder; just how far have we come on our journey of "Human Relations/Race Relations/Women's Rights"? In view of recent events I would have to say not all that far. Is this all just a 'smoke screen' created to keep us from seeing the truth of the actual progresses made? Or has the actual smoke screen created by past administrations faded only to show us the truth of our progress?
Now we might not be as blatant as in recent years (yes... I say recent years), for we don't see many bodies hanging from trees; but there are plenty of bodies shot in our city streets. Women are making more money; but they still only earn about 82% of a man's salary. So I ask myself, have we really made progress?
Just the other week I was ignorant (or should I say arrogant) enough to say things like, "why do they insist on pulling the 'race card'?" "How am I, a white woman supposed to get past this?" Or, "How are we ever to get past this if we keep playing this 'race thing'?" As I look at those words, I am filled with regret and shame. I can't believe the utter stupidity in me, Amelia and David Mac Gregor's daughter. Then I look at the first two headlines. It is especially chilling for me when I hear words about the supposed 'come shoot me clothes' that Trayvon Martin was accused of wearing. Or how about reports of another young gentleman who, by merely touching waist band (in the wrong place at the wrong time), got shot. Another of our black youth, dead by mistaken identity of a jumpy police officer. I'm embarrassed for our actions as a society and embarrassed to have said and thought such things.
Easter has always been a time for reflection for me. For some, January 1st is the time for resolutions and renewal; and in our calendar this is the starting point for our year. However, I’ve always looked at the Easter and Passover holiday as my time of renewal; my ‘New Year’, if you will, as it is at this time when I do most of my reflection.
Spiritually, I take this time to reflect and, for lack of a better word, renew my faith. Raised a Christian, I’ve chosen to follow the teachings ofand read the bible and His scriptures; scriptures such as:
"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"
(Matthew 7.1-5 ESV)
I often wonder of the days of Jesus and can only imagine how tumultuous they were and yet I find myself perplexed by this world also. This world where the people in it are still so intertwined with their own similarities, nuances and stark differences; so much so that they are still tortured and in so much turmoil. We are only one race; a race of people [period]. Still so different, yet when you think of it, very much the same. Take our bodies, where at the very basic level, function the same. So just what is it that we think can possibly be gained by killing one another on the basis of race or religion or sexual preference? Less fear? Righteousness?
I had a long and heartfelt conversation with my brother the other day who was describing to me how he felt the day we first went into space and the first time he got a glimpse of the shot of the earth from the moon. The one from Apollo 8 as the earth was rising from behind the moon, this jewel of blue, green and white and how spectacular it was! He continued telling me that he found himself asking how was it that on this magnificent planet, we could ‘segregate’ or ‘fight’ or ‘kill’; spill blood over the very idea of race. Just looking at it, we certainly seemed insignificant and, yet, the very men taking this picture were definitely connected. And definitely significant. All they wanted was to go home.
What would happen if an alien ship were to come down back in the day; which if you remember anything about that part of history, was rattled with riots throughout the South and in most major cities. Even our little family could not escape the hatred of racism; our own town where my brother experienced beatings by black students and where we watched our white neighbors move to the “better” parts of town, was not immune.
Just what would those aliens say? I tell you what I imagine they would say. After we spewed off all of our differences; complaining of how horrible they were. I imagine that first they would laugh, then they might say, “We are different, your race and ours. But you; what purpose do you serve to maim, torture, or kill? You are the same. You all have the same cell structure, bleed the same blood, breath in the same oxygen. Show emotion, smile, cry; if you took the pigment out of the picture there wouldn’t be anything to judge.” And they would be correct. When you think of this vast jewel of the Universe that we inhabit, it looks so peaceful, yet what is it about us that we can seem to do nothing better with our differences than to fight?
When someone disagrees with us, we fight. When someone is different, we fight. When someone follows a different religion, we fight. Even between the sexes, we fight. Instead of glorifying in the differences and what those differences can give and how they can enhance this race of humans; we fight. We continue on the fight by pointing out the obvious with scorn, instead of glory.
Our differences enhance and glorify each and every one of us. You can't have joy without sadness, love without loss; I'm not even certain that you can have hate without love. What I do think is you must work through the hate, you don't just shoot it out, just as we need the positive in our lives, we need the negative. It is with those negative emotions that give us the tools to enhance the power of the positive emotions; you work through them, in spite of them. That is what gives a person character. We all live as one unit and like the colors of a wonderful quilt, we enhance the beauty that exists next to us and around us. For it is those differences that we should be living for. And those are the differences that bind us, much like the similarities.
I say that I use this time as a time to renew my faith; is it the only true faith? No, I don't believe that to be true. For I believe that our dear Lord gave us many paths to finding our way, and to finding our way in and around the many vast differences we see among ourselves. Working with compassion instead of contempt, with benevolence instead of bullets, and treasure each other instead of scorn.
Matthew 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
We are in the 21st century people; this is a time of Awakening, it will happen whether you like it or not. There is no going back to a 'better time'; that time is now. I intend to learn from my mistakes and continue on learning; that is the trick to this life, is it not? To continue learning, picking yourself up each time you fall.