Imagine a scene where a group of people are on the side of a mountain during a disaster – perhaps a plane crash of some sort – and there is a large group of survivors. Unfortunately, the survivors are in a perilous position – there is the danger of avalanche, and they are high atop a precarious perch. Further imagine that initially some of the survivors panic and start running around and hollering and causing trouble. In a desperate situation, those people – the loudest, angriest and most frightened – are rarely, if ever, part of the solution. They are often, however, part of the problem.
Note: This is part 2 of an ongoing series on racial harmony. Click the links below to read the other articles, though they are not necessary to read before this one:
Part 1: A Meditation on White Privilege
Part 2: The Deadly, Draining Danger of Outrage
Part 3: Lebron James and the Tyranny of Offense (A.K.A. The Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome)
In the United States right now, we are in a bit of a crisis situation, somewhat analogous to our friends who have survived the plane crash above. There is a simmering sort of tension right now between minorities and law enforcement, and racial tension itself seems to on the rise in a way that I can’t remember seeing in the past two decades.
So here we have a powder keg of a situation that has all interested parties in a state of nervous agitation – not a good place to be for an armed populace, and an armed constabulary. What is the ROOT cause here? By that question, I am actually asking the question: “What is the ROOT cause of the CURRENT/RECENT inflamed racial situation involving minorities, law enforcement, and the whole nation? Is it racism in law enforcement? While that could ultimately be a contributing factor, I don’t actually believe it is the overall cause, although I freely admit that there are racists (of many stripes) running about in law enforcement, and in literally every segment of society: business, hospitals, churches, etc.
Is the current root cause perhaps that anti-law enforcement aggression and anger exhibited by such groups as #BlackLivesMatter is contributing towards an atmosphere that is leading to a greater level of aggression and defensiveness from police officers? Again – I do not believe that to be the ROOT cause, though I do believe that some wings and groups within the umbrella of BLM do indeed seem to produce some excessively inflammatory rhetoric that could well be inciting violence and hatred at times.
That said, from my very limited and imperfect perspective, I don’t think that racism is currently on the rise in America the way it seems to be. I DO think we are more enlightened and less racist now than when we were in the sixties and seventies. That was a different time, it seems to me, than it is today. When I was eight years old (in the early 1980s), I had a friend named Alex Coleman – a Black guy. He was one of my best friends, and he would occasionally come over to play with me at our family’s house in a relatively affluent white suburb. (Vestavia Hills, Alabama)
I have never forgotten the time that my dad hung up the phone one evening at our house, and informed me that the caller was a neighbor who was irate that I was playing with a black boy outside in full view of all of the other neighbors. Apparently that wasn’t the only time that such complaining phone calls happened. I was bewildered about such ignorant, stupid hatred then, and I am bewildered about it now. But I believe that we are seeing less and less of that kind of attitude in this country.
Is Racism a core part of the problem in the increasing tensions between minorities and law enforcement? Yes – it absolutely is. I believe there is probably more racism that is active in the country now than most white people would believe and/or acknowledge. (And possibly less than some race agitators, social justice warriors and other strife-causers might admit) I also believe that there is a fairly substantial amount of racial hatred directed by minorities towards whites, and other different minority groups. Bottom line: There is enough racial animus in our country that we should all be ashamed and repent in humility and sackcloth and ashes. But nobody is really denying that part of our problem is race. And I don’t think that racism is actually on the INCREASE. I think that there is something else that is fueling the recent racial strife that has been making headlines over the past few years. I blame YOU. (and ME too, actually)
See if you can follow me on this. I’m going to present a theory. I don’ t think it is especially new or novel, but I don’t hear many commentators speaking about it on the news, and I haven’t read many writers who have discusses it in depth. I believe that the MEDIA is responsible for a surprisingly high proportion of the current, ongoing racial strife. Now – DON’T stop reading yet. I don’t mean merely mean the MAINSTREAM media…I am actually MORE referring to US – We The People; We The Social Media.
The bottom line – I think the media, and especially social media, is causing a vicious circle that is leading to an atmosphere of fear, distrust and separation in America that is ultimately fueling violent action, and divisive arguments. Note that I am not blaming the faceless “mainstream media,” or the “liberal media,” or the “conservative media,” or whatever. I am blaming US.
Remember our plane crash illustration above? Sometimes the loudest, most agitated and most panicked people in a given situation can cause trouble and strife and danger for the whole group. Given a situation where a group of survivors are huddled on a mountainside, if a few people panic or get alarmed, or jump up and run around screaming – disaster could happen to everybody. Likewise, in a social media climate where so many people are ANGRY and ATTACKING…I believe we are creating a similar dynamic in our country. Social media is so ubiquitous and ANGER and RAGE on social media is so common, that most of us are getting a daily dose of it. And I don’ t believe it is helping; I believe it is incredibly harmful to us as society. Not social media itself – but OUTRAGE and SLANDER and ATTACKS (of each other and whatever groups we don’t like) on social media.
I believe the Bible actually has something powerful and profound to say to us right now, as a country. It is a warning and a glorious encouragement:
Galatians 5:13-15 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
We are at our highest as people when we are loving each other the way that we want to be loved. This is the Golden Rule of Jesus found in Matthew 7:12. How do you want to be loved by people? Do you enjoy being attacked, or belittled? Do you enjoy when people take your point of view and twist it into a caricature of what you actually believe, and then make it appear that you support something that you would never agree with? Do you enjoy being fussed at or accused of being abusive or being racist? Probably not…therefore, be exceedingly careful about avoiding doing that with others. If WE aren’t careful about that, then the Apostle Paul’s warning above will be true of us: If we keep on biting and devouring each other, we will eventually implode, and there will be nothing left. And I believe that is what is happening in our country.
So – here’s my encouragement: Stop attacking people…even when you are sure they are wrong. Think about it for a moment: When was the last time your opinion on something was changed by somebody who was insulting you in an overbearing or critical or negative way? All of us have been berated in the past to change our opinion, but that change of opinion – even when we were moving closer to the truth – was often an overall negative experience when it was initiated in a negative way. And decisions made that way don’t often stick. I’m not saying don’t confront racism. I’m saying don’t be an outraged jerk who is constantly castigating groups or people who don’t see things exactly the way you do. Do you want to spread truth? Good – me too! How should we do that?
I don’t think there has ever been a person better at persuading people of truth than Jesus Christ Himself. I believe His approach is the same type of approach we should use. A humble approach. A servant-focused approach. A self-sacrificing approach. You might think that sounds too weak – or too passive. But it is not – Not even close – Jesus was neither weak nor passive, and His message has endured world wide for almost 2000 years. Nobody has ever spoken a more powerful and enduring message than Jesus. We should be like Him. How did He do it? I conclude part two of this five part series with a meditation on Jesus’ approach to saving the world and teaching and spreading His truth from the Apostle Paul, in Philippians, chapter 2:
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God,did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.
For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Stay tuned for part 3 – More to come! Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share this with your friends – I would be honored. 🙂